Religion and ethnicity: Judaism in the ethnic consciousness of contemporary Russian Jews
Jews have debated whether they are a racial, religious, ethnic or cultural group. Historically, Judaism (religion) and Jewish ethnicity have been fused. The Soviet regime suppressed traditional Jewish identities and substituted a secular, socialist Jewishness based on Yiddish which proved unpopular. Now that they are free to reconstruct Jewish life, we interviewed 1,300 Jews in three Russian cities to ascertain what they think being Jewish means. Judaism plays a very small role in their conceptions of Jewishness. To the extent that religious rituals are observed, they are manifestations of ‘symbolic ethnicity’. Many do not ‘feel’ Jewish because their culture and consciousness are largely Russian. Nevertheless, they are interested in learning more about Jewish traditions and culture. A Jewish ‘civil religion’ may emerge in Russia. Jewish identities have varied over space and time, and a uniquely Russian Jewish identity may evolve in the coming years.
Religion and ethnicity: Judaism in the ethnic consciousness of contemporary Russian Jews . 1997: 280-305. https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-rus7