"Strangers in the Homeland” : Social Integration of Non-Jewish Immigrant Women in Israel

Volume 15, 2010 : From State Socialism to State Judaism: 'Russian' Immigrants in Israel and their attitudes towards Religion

English abstract

"Strangers in the Homeland” : 
Social Integration of Non-Jewish Immigrant Women in Israel 

Larissa Remennick 
Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Anna Prashizky 
Sociological Institute for Community Studies, 
Bar-Ilan University, Israel 
Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
Ashkelon Academic College, Israel

This volume of “Sociological Papers” reports on the findings of the recently-completed research project that examined the array of attitudes and behaviors related to religion among former Soviet immigrants of the 1990s in Israel. The study included a survey in a national sample of Russian-speaking Olim and a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews with 50 informants representing different locations on the scale between secularism and religiosity. The main study report occupies most space of this volume; after some background on the place of religion in the lives of Russian/Soviet Jewry, it presents the study participants and methods, followed by the main findings. The findings of the survey and the qualitative phase are reported in an integrated fashion, reflecting the key themes that informed this research: Participants’ self-identification on the religious scale; Jewish and Christian practices in their everyday lives before and after immigration; their attitudes towards Israeli-Jewish traditions, religious and civic; control of personal status laws by religious authorities; minority rights and conversion (giyur) for non-Jews. Following the main report, three additional papers (vignettes) offer a closer look at the minority segments among Russian Israelis: religious Jews (mostly Orthodox baalei-tshuva), practicing Christians, and non-Jewish (mostly Russian) women married to Jewish men who moved to Israel with their families. The overall picture that emerges from this multi-level study gives an insight into multiple ways, by which former Soviet immigrants, raised in the ultimate secular society, have adjusted to the ethno-national regime of Israel guarded by the principle that we call State Judaism.

About the authors

Larissa Remennick

Larissa Remennick was born and educated in Moscow, Russia (Ph.D. from the Institute of Sociology, 1988) and immigrated to Israel in 1991. She joined Bar-Ilan faculty in 1994 and is currently professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She is also Director of Sociological Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities at Bar-Ilan and Editor of Sociological Papers series published by the Institute. Her research interests include (but are not limited to) immigration and acculturation experiences of post-Soviet Jewry in Israel and in the West. Her most recent book Russian Jews on Three Continents: Identity, Integration and Conflict was published in 2007 by Transaction Publishers at Rutgers University, U.S.

Ana Prashizky

Anna Prashizky was born in Russia and immigrated to Israel together with her family in 1991. In 2006 she received her Ph.D. from the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Bar-Ilan University. She is managing editor of "Sociological Papers" and adjunct lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ashkelon Academic College. Her research interests are in the area of ritual studies and especially in alternative weddings and funerals among secular Israelis. Her recent studies focus on the patterns of personal and collective memory in Orthodox and alternative weddings, and on the authority of alternative ritual masters.

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