Posts tagged the economist.

Who is a Jew? ›


“The revival of Jewish life among some of the Russian Jews in Germany has been an important corrective for thinking Israelis. In the 1980s and 1990s, when Jews streamed out of the Soviet Union, their exit visas all citing Israel as their destination, Israel fought foreign governments and diaspora Jewish organisations to stop them dropping off on the way. They were not refugees, the Israeli government and the World Zionist Organisation contended. They had a homeland: Israel. Outside Israel their Jewish identity would die.

This has not happened in Germany, nor in America, where the mixture of assimilation, religiosity and ethnic identity among the hundreds of thousands of ex-Soviet Jews who live there is similar to that of the broader Jewish community. All this suggests that diasporas are more resilient than dogmas of Zionist primacy admit.


“Most German Jewish communities restrict their membership to halachic Jews only; that is, those born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in accordance with the halacha. Many of the Russian immigrants do not qualify for membership. Some of them undergo conversion; most do not, leaving them in a sort of Jewish limbo.”