Repatriate conference in Haifa

 Haifa Repatriate Conference

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Last Thursday (13.01) in Haifa, in the auditorium of the Museum of Japanese Art “Tikotin” hosted by the Haifa Museums Department with the support of the Genesis Foundation conference called “Perestroika in Israel”, dedicated to the state of integration of repatriates from the former USSR and their children in Israel 30 years after the beginning of the Great Aliyah.

Participants of round tables within the framework of the conference were Russian-speaking journalists, cultural and public figures, representatives of political parties. The speakers discussed issues such as whether there is still a need for a sectoral party to ensure the full representation of Russian-speaking repatriates, or can their proportional representation in large parties fulfill this task more effectively? Is there still a need for sectoral, niche media?

The discussion inevitably touched upon the difficulties of integration that all the repatriate participants had to go through. Particular attention was paid to those who survived Aliya as children and adolescents. Many recalled many difficult moments, insults and misunderstandings on the part of their sabra peers, entire periods during which very young repatriates felt loneliness and alienation, believing that the new country was rejecting them, not giving them their place. However, all participants of the conference agreed that the difficulties were in the past, since then they have grown up, served in the IDF, were educated in Israel, created families and they had a new generation, already real sabr.

Answering the question of the presenter about the difference in mentality between parents of one and a half generation and their children-sabras (the second generation of Aliya), Dmitry Dubov, chief editor of news of Channel 9, noted that “the main difference is that our children do not think about their identification and do not consider it blurry and unclear. “They are completely calm, consider themselves Israelis, Jews and do not worry about anything. When asked who she considers herself to be, my daughter simply said “herself,” Dubov said.

Lena Russovskaya, radio host, employee of the state media corporation KAN, noted during the discussion that the most important role of those who repatriated at an older age is to convey to young people, those who came to Israel as children, all the diversity and richness of the culture and history of the Jews of the Soviet Union: “Our history as Russian-speaking Jews – this is a huge and important layer of the history of the entire Jewish people, and knowledge of this history creates a special feeling of belonging to modern Israel. That is why I consider it our special task to share knowledge, experience and memories with those who, due to their age, did not have time to experience this period for themselves. According to Russovskaya, familiarity with the history of their roots allowed Russian-speaking repatriates to feel their own place in modern Israeli society. “Ultimately, we were all able to find our own place in Israel,” Lena emphasized.

One of the discussions touched upon the phenomenon of the fusion of elements of Soviet culture and modern Israeli culture. Russian-speaking repatriates are involved in the rooting of the New Year holiday in the general Israeli life, many culinary features of the former Soviet Union and traditional Russian cuisine, as well as individual musical works. The influence of Russian-speaking culture on the Israeli cultural mosaic is difficult to overestimate, absolutely all participants agreed on this.

Knesset Member Alex Kushnir (NDI), who also took part in the roundtable, noted that the importance of studying the history and culture of repatriates from the countries of the former Soviet Union has only increased over the years. “Russian-speaking repatriates make up a large and very important part of Israeli society, and knowledge of the history of Soviet Jewry should also become an integral part of the collective consciousness, should be studied in the state education system along with other historical periods of Jewish history.”

grant activities of the Genesis Foundation Natalie Schneiderman: “We see this conference as another opportunity for dialogue and mutual enrichment of knowledge between representatives of Russian-speaking Israel and their fellow citizens. Conference “Perestroika in Israel” was a natural development of our partnership with the Haifa City Museums and a continuation of the momentum started by the Haifa Rebuilding exhibition taking place at the Haifa City Museum these days.

Link to full event recording:

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