Volume 18, 2015-2016 : The Russian 1.5 Generation in Israel:
Between Protest and Belonging

Celebrating Memory and Belonging:
Young Russian Israelis Claim their Unique Place in Tel-Aviv's Urban Space

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
Western Galilee Academic College, Israel

Drawing on the theoretical concept of collective memory and migration, and politics of belonging, this article explores performative belonging enacted in the series of holidays and commemorative rites organized by young Russian immigrants in Israel’s major metropolis. Our ethnography is based on 18 months of participant observation at the cultural association Fishka in South Tel-Aviv. As part of our field work, we documented public celebrations of Jewish and Russian-Soviet holidays organized by Fishka as acts of public performance seeking to elevate the prestige of Russian culture in Israel. These events reinforced visibility of Russian Israelis in Israel’s cultural capital and helped reach out to other urban communities, both native and immigrant. The article discusses the unique contribution of these bicultural young adults to Tel-Aviv’s diverse and dynamic urban scene. Our main argument is about the importance of collective memory in migration, whereby holidays and commemorative rites reinforce feelings of belonging and fortify the immigrants’ claim on the respectable place in the receiving society.

   Link to article, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 2016