How Jewish Are The “Soviet Jews”

I previously discussed my feelings on the subject but I was happy to discover that I am not the only one pondering these questions. A short documentary by a young Soviet-born Jewish-Canadian offers a perspective I can identify with, a point of view from a person who came in contact with a different type of Jewish culture and now wonders if her own Jewishness is somehow not up to par. Since I arrived here at the age of 22 with established worldviews and my own understanding of what it means to be Jewish, I haven’t been subjected to the situations described by the people interviewed in the documentary, but I definitely recognized my own thoughts when she interviewed her Mom (although I do speak better English). I wonder if my daughter feels that way when she deals with her friends who have more active Jewish community and religious lives.

Before the video I’d like to offer a quote from an article on the subject:

It is not surprising that Russian Jews — who love their treyf, enjoy their Christmas trees and keep away from synagogues — leave American, Israeli and German Jews wondering what to think. Perhaps they should begin by considering the notion that Russian Jews have something of great value to contribute to the Jewish world.
Russian Jews, with their radically global view of the Jewish world, with their ability to bring together thousands for a Yiddish concert or a Limmud gathering, with their multilingualism and transnationalism, belong at the center of conversation about Jewish life. With Jews around the globe seeking out new ways of expressing their Jewish identities outside the confines of traditional religious practice, Russian Jews’ own secular, ethnically driven notions of Jewishness, and their experience with maintaining community in multiple homes, may eventually place them at the center, not the periphery, of Jewish experience.

I know this topic is not relevant to many people who read this blog and the documentary is a little crude and oversimplified, but it’s honest and an awesome effort by someone who is still learning about herself. I hope she gets noticed.

  • Coolvalley

    You guys should all get together and have a civil war to see who the best Jew’s are.

  • I Travel for Jools

    What is a Jew? My aunt, born a full blooded Norwegian and raised Christian, became a Jew when she married a Jew. She adopted the Jewish religion and her kids were raised in the Synagogue and with many Jewish customs, and I think their kids still practice the Jewish religion as adults.

    I want to ask you one question. Is your daughter a Jew?

    • I am pretty sure she feels Jewish. We continue with our non- religious brand, but she enjoys being the only jewish girl in school, something I wasn’t able to do when I was growing up. I explained to her how I feel about it and it’s up to her where she wants to take it. I won’t discourage her, but won’t pressure her either.

      • I Travel for Jools

        I think you’re doing the right thing in being honest with her.

  • Radiomankc

    But Golda? Do you LOVE ME?

  • DaveDuke

    Trotsky was a Russian Jew.

  • The New Yorker

    I thought this was very honest and extremely well-done documentary. Unique perspectives. I think Jewish culture is very diverse and complex.