Jewish immigration, anti-Semitism, Jewish identity, national identity, reformist Judaism, Zionism, Julie Kazlova, the refuseniks
Jews had begun arriving in the New World long before the immigration waves of the twentieth century. As early as the 1700s, before America became the United States, before it became known as a haven for the tired, poor and oppressed, European Jews fled religious persecution to find solace here. They settled in cosmopolitan port cities - like that of New York - where all kinds of people from diverse backgrounds could mix and do business together. The Jews of America organized themselves into synagogue communities, strictly upholding Jewish customs.
[...] But there was no Jewish community in the sense that there is here in America, or in Israel. I didn't even know what kosher was until I arrived in Ashdod.” When prompted to answer why she and her family decided to leave Russia, Julie says “There was something in the air. My parents felt it. The country was tightening the belt; and the Jews knew—if not today, then tomorrow In 1991, Gorbachev dismantled Communism. Ukraine, Julie's home country, declared its independence, and restrictions on exit visas eased and Jews were allowed to freely emigrate to their country of choice. [...]
[...] The obstacles Julie faced in her first years in Israel were similar to the hardships any Jewish immigrant faced having moved to a foreign country. “Even though this was a land for the Jews, and I was a Jew, I was still a stranger to recounts Julie. didn't speak the language, I never served in the army, and I was considered inferior because I was Russian.” By the time her family arrived in 1991, however, Julie had found herself a new life. [...]
[...] May 2010. Sarna , Jonathan D. and Jonathan Golden. American Jewish Experience Through the Nineteenth Century: Immigration and Acculturation.” Brandeis University (Oct. 2000). National Humanities Center. Web. May 2010. [...]
[...] Born in 1962 in what is now modern- day Ukraine, Julie hails from precisely the sort of Russian “intelligentsia” that escaped persecution and sought new life abroad. Julie obtained an exit visa in 1985 and departed for Israel, leaving behind her parents, her little brother and her only living set of grandparents. For five years she was not to see them again. This was very common of the manner in which Russian Jewry relocated abroad. Visas were impossible to come by and families would often wait for years after applying for a confirmation call from Moscow. [...]
[...] Likewise, Jewish women benefited from the feminist revolution, finding new strength to emerge as leaders in their synagogues and become involved in rabbinical studies. While the Jews of America were enjoying prosperity and economic and social advancement, Jews in Russia were facing mass oppression and anti- Semitism. Even after the defeat of Stalin, attempts to stamp out Judaism in the USSR continued. Jewish publications and religious works had to be smuggled and studied in secret. Jews lived in fear of being branded traitors and either imprisoned or forced into harsh labor camps. A new group of political dissidents emerged. [...]
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