New Findings: Young Jews in the FSU Have Developed a Dual Identity

photo by Nathan Roi
Participant Leah Levina holding the Havdala candle; photo by Nathan Roi.

Limmud FSU Moscow Conference Reveals New Findings on Young FSU Jews

Professor Vladimir (Ze’ev) Khanin, chief scientist for the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and Senior Lecturer in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University, presented for the first time the findings of his new book, “A Generation of Desert? Contemporary FSU Jewish Youth: Ethnicity, Religion and the Nation.”

Khanin presented at the Limmud FSU Conference currently underway in Moscow.

Khanin sees young Jews in the FSU as the first post-Soviet generation. Young Jews in the FSU have developed a dual identity, based on Jewish culture as well as national pride about their home country, he said. The professor said Jewish identity of both younger and older Jews revolves around three core values: Jewish ethnic and cultural traditions; the memory of the Holocaust; and solidarity with the State of Israel.

This new Jewish identity is emerging largely through Jewish schools or community activities, though the role of religion is also growing, Khanin said. Since young people tend to introduce socio-cultural innovations, we could witness a “third generation” phenomenon in the coming decades, in which the offspring of interfaith marriages will rediscover the Eastern-European Jewish roots of their parents and grandparents, he added.

Khanin’s findings are based on two studies conducted in Russia in 2008 and 2010-2011.