Young Jews in the former Soviet Union have developed a dual identity based on Jewish culture and national pride about their home country, says Professor Vladimir (Ze’ev) Khanin of the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption
Khanin, a senior lecturer in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University, believes 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.
He discussed his findings at the recent Limmud FSU conference in Moscow, considered the largest Jewish gathering in the former Soviet Union, which brought together more than 1,000 young Russian Jews of the post-Soviet generation.
This new Jewish identity is emerging largely through Jewish schools or community activities, though the role of religion is also growing, Khanin said, discussing his new book “A Generation of Desert? Contemporary FSU Jewish Youth: Ethnicity, Religion and the Nation”.
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.
This is the ninth Limmud FSU Moscow conference, organized entirely by a local team of volunteers in what is the biggest Jewish community in the FSU.
Limmud conferences are also considered to be among the leading Jewish cultural events in the FSU, and provide a festival of Jewish learning featuring lectures, workshops, round-table discussions, music and a wide-range of cultural events in Russian, English and Hebrew. Most of the participants came from the Russian Federation.
The Moscow conference included more than 180 sessions on topics such as Jewish culture, tradition, innovation and communication. Speakers included Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; Israeli Ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender; Shachar Weiser, the founder of GetTaxi; refusenik and former Prisoner of Zion Yoseph Mendelevich and Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner.