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Date: 2013
Abstract: This article explores the recent trend of return migration from Israel to countries of the former Soviet Union. The author analyses the current debates on the subject and, based on ethnographic fieldwork in Odessa, Ukraine conducted in 2005-2007, delves into the everyday experiences of «Russian» Israelis who have resettled in Odessa for personal and professional reasons. It focuses on their reasons for relocation and experiences of settling in their old/new environments, specifically their relationship to organized Jewish life and a sense of belonging. It argues that most returnees do not envision their relocation as a permanent decision and many do return to Israel or travel back and forth. In Odessa their experiences and connections to local Jewish life vary but for the most part returnees are concerned with improving their standard of living and see their relocation as a means of achieving that goal. It is too early to understand the full scope of «Russian» Israeli presence in the FSU, but we can already see that their future moves will most likely be determined by the personal and professional opportunities they encounter and family circumstances they face. The transnational orientations and open-ended journeys of «Russian» Israelis in Odessa complicate concepts of «Home» and «Diaspora» often applied to Israel and the Jewish people. On the one hand, leaving Israel constitutes Odessa as home; on the other hand, strong ties to Israel, displayed among many returnees, speak of Israel as a place of belonging. And yet other cases point to other realities where Russian Israelis explore other options or remain on the move. Placing the material in the wider context of Diaspora studies the author argues that «Home» and «Diaspora» are not fixed categories and can no longer be seen in a simplified manner of ideological constants.
Editor(s): Troen, S. Ilan
Date: 1998