Jewish Identity of Russian Speaking Young Adults

Understanding the Jewish Identity and Experiences of Russian-Speaking Young Adults:
A Study of the Taglit-Birthright Israel Generation 

Michelle Shain, Benjamin Phillips, and Leonard SaxeRussian Young Adults

November 2011

Hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and their children currently live in North America. The Jewish identity of the young adults in this group is a source of broad concern in the Jewish community. Taglit-Birthright Israel (Taglit), which provides 10-day educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26, is one program that has successfully engaged Jewish young adults with roots in the FSU. Drawing on draws on data collected in a set of surveys conducted approximately three months before and after the Taglit trips in summer ’07, winter ’07-’08, and summer ’08, as well as focus groups and in-depth interviews, this report paints a comprehensive portrait of Russian-speaking Taglit participants.

This report examines the sociodemographic characteristics, backgrounds and current Jewish and Russian identities and engagement of Taglit participants with roots in the FSU. It then examines their Taglit experience and the impact of the trip. Finally, the report explores potential avenues to engage this group’s unique Russian-Jewish cultural and linguistic heritage and draw them into American Jewish life.

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Read the technical appendices