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

Evolving Attitudes and Practices in the Religious Field among Former Soviet Immigrants 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.

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