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Date: 2018
Abstract: Problems of religious and ethnic identity are especially pertinent for people of Jewish heritage in post-Soviet states. Radical changes of the 20th century made the society more secular, put distinctions between definitions of being “Jew” and “Judaist”; the number of mixed marriages grew, and the young generations now learn traditions not from parents but from public lectures in Jewish communities. In this paper we have tried to find out what has brought young people to the Jewish community of Smolensk, why they choose to remain there, and whether they consider themselves Jewish. We have been especially interested in understanding how much does religious identity influence the choice of ethnic identity, and vice versa.

The research is based on 8 in-depth interviews collected during Sefer Center’s trip to Smolensk Oblast in 2016. The interviewees were selected according to the following criteria: regular visits to the synagogue (twice a month or more) and age between 14 and 35.

The working hypothesis is that the number, the frame of mind, and the identity of the young people who visit the synagogue are influenced by the following factors: 1) ethnic and religious identity of the family members and close people of the respondents and their disposition towards various confessions and ethnicities; 2) the rabbi’s policy in ethnic issues and traditions, how loyal he is to rule bending and now active he is in attracting the youth to the synagogue; 3) the environment: the influence of historically significant places of Smolensk Oblast and memories of remarkable historical events that occurred on its territory.

After analyzing the data we have drawn the following conclusions. The main reason for the interviewees to choose the Jewish identity is the prevailing of such identity in their parents. For those whose parents are both Jewish this argument is sufficient. If only parent is Jewish, a young person starts seeking for additional arguments to “allow” himself/herself be Jewish. Such reasons may be their sympathy towards Judaism and/or Jewish customs and the feeling of one’s “distinction”. Sometimes for the final integration into the Jewish environment the interviewees conduct Giyur or circumcision, the latter being not only for religious reasons. If the young people don’t feel such sympathies or don’t perform the special rituals for integration, they leave the community because they don’t feel enough “Jewishness” to remain there. The forming of one or another religious identity depends mostly on which identity is considered the right one in the family. Also, in contrast to ethnic identity, religious identity changes more often and is dependent on the person’s environment and period of time.

Thus, the working hypothesis has been confirmed in a number of points. 1) The forming of identities is indeed influenced by the identities of parents and social circles of the interviewees and the rabbi’s policy towards the youth and other members of the community. 2) It is also influenced to a lesser extent by which religious and ethnic identity is prevalent and considered normal in a particular region. Historical events and places have basically no influence on the identity formation.
Author(s): Remennick, Larissa
Date: 2017
Abstract: This chapter offers a comparative overview of immigrant trajectories and inte-gration outcomes of Russian-Jewish youths (the so-called 1.5 generation) who immigrated to Israel and Germany with their families over the last 25 years. At the outset, I compare Israeli and German reception contexts and policies and present the generic features of the 1.5 immigrant generation. Next I overview the Israeli research findings on Russian Israeli 1.5ers – their schooling, social mobility, cultural and linguistic practices, parents’ role in their integration, and juxtapose them with (still limited) German data. 󰀀e final section presents two recent German studies of young Russian-Jewish adults and the initial findings from my own study among these immigrants living in four German cities. My interviews with 20 men and women, mostly successful professionals or entrepreneurs, indicate that their upward social mobility was facilitated by the continuous welfare support of their families, school integration programs, and low financial barriers to higher education. Despite common occupation-al and social downgrading of the parental generation in both countries, the 1.5-ers in Israel had to struggle harder to overcome their inherent immigrant disadvantage vs. native peers to access good schools and professional careers. Most young immigrants deem full assimilation in the host country’s main-stream unattainable and opt instead for a bilingual and/or bicultural strategy of integration
Date: 1993
Abstract: The theoretical emphasis in this thesis is on the ideas that people have regarding
the sociocultural construct of human nature. Regarded as a construct whose form
and content is intrinsically connected to economic, historic and sociocultural factors,
the thesis attempts to explain how specific circumstances have caused the orthodox
Jewish community of Gateshead to re-negotiate and crystallize the concept of
human nature in their quest to live ethical and moral lives. In the last fifty years
this community has become known as a prominent centre for higher rabbinical
studies and attracts students from all over the world. Apart from its high
intellectual standards it has also gained a reputation as harbouring members who
are devoted to inter-personal ethics. The contention of this thesis is that the
community's level of compliance to such behaviours requires an awareness and a
well-defined notion of one's "inner" self and its various components that govern the
process of moral and ethical conduct.
Underpinning a wide range of sociocultural activities the thesis deals in particular
with the way in which ideas of human nature are inherent to the content and form
of indigenous educational theory. The process of child-rearing not only ensures the
reproduction of competent sociocultural members, it also aids the child in acquiring
an understanding of its "inner" self. The latter is in Gateshead defined as the locus
of personal and individual responsibility and is consequently vital in making the child
aware of its potentiality for moral conduct.
By carefully analyzing mother-child interactions it is revealed how the structure and
content of these interactions are organized by and expressive of inherent ideas
concerning the concept of human nature. Through active participation in these
interaction sequences the child is provided with an opportunity to construct and
acquire an understanding of itself as a moral agent.
Author(s): Frank, Fiona
Date: 2012
Abstract: This thesis casts new light on the immigrant experience, focusing on one extended Scottish Jewish family, the descendents of Rabbi Zvi David Hoppenstein and his wife Sophia, who arrived in Scotland in the early 1880s. Going further than other studies by exploring connections and difference through five generations and across five branches of the family, it uses grounded theory and a feminist perspective and draws on secondary sources like census data and contemporary newspaper reports with the early immigrant generations, oral testimony with the third and fourth generations and an innovative use of social networking platforms to engage with the younger generation. It explores Bourdieu’s theories relating to cultural and economic capital and the main themes are examined through the triple lens of generational change, gender and class. The thesis draws out links between food and memory and examines outmarriage and ‘return inmarriage’. It explores the fact that antisemitic and negative reactions from the host community, changing in nature through the generations but always present, have had an effect on people’s sense of their Jewish identity just as much as has the transmission of Jewish identity at home, in the synagogue, in Hebrew classes and in Jewish political, educational, leisure and welfare organisations. It makes an important link between gendered educational opportunities and consequent gendered intergenerational class shift, challenges other studies which view Jewish identity as static and illustrates how the boundary between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ is blurred: the Hoppenstein family offers us a context where we can see clearly how insider and outsider status can be self-assigned, ascribed by others, or mediated by internal gatekeepers.
Editor(s): Danieli, Yael
Date: 1998