Jewish Hearts

A Study of Dynamic Ethnicity in the United States and the Soviet Union

By Betty N. Hoffman

Subjects: Jewish Studies
Series: SUNY series in Oral and Public History
Paperback : 9780791449462, 308 pages, April 2001
Hardcover : 9780791449455, 308 pages, April 2001

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Table of contents

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION

 

Definitions and Demographics
Russian Jews
Soviet Jews
American Jews
Sources of Information
"The Literature"
Theoretical Analysis in a Complex World

 

PART I. THE TRANSFORMATION OF JEWISH LIFE IN TWO CONTEXTS, 1881-1970

1. The Old Country

 

Ethnicity and Anti-Semitism: Critical Boundaries
Assassination
Politics and Power
Religion and Ideology: The Basis for Social Cohesion
Education
Economic Production under Anti-Semitic Pressure
War, Chaos, and Change
Revolution

 

2. The Search for a Niche in the Soviet World

 

New Incentives, New Constraints, and Anti-Semitism
The Consolidation of Communist Power
The Decimation of Religious Practice: Silence as a Strategy
Education for the New Economy
The Great Patriotic War: The Decimation of the Jews
Discrimination at Home, Support for Israel Abroad
Stalin's Final Terror
The Post-Stalin Era
The Six Day War
Beyond Silence: Moving toward a Positive Jewish Ethnicity

 

3. Die Goldene Medine: The Golden Land

 

Hartford: The Challenge of the New World
Yiddishkeit in Hartford: The Immigrant Neighborhood
Adapting to the Hartford Political System
Religious Practice: The Defining Ethnic Marker
Kinship and Social Structure
Education and Americanization: New Secular Trends
Searching for Economic Security
The Beginning of Immigration Restriction

 

4. The Consolidation of the Hartford Community

 

The Area of Second Settlement
The Depression and Anti-Semitism: Limiting the Refugees
World War II and the Aftermath"
Transitions in the Postwar Period
The Six Day War: The American Jewish Response
"Save Soviet Jewry"

 

PART II. EGYPT AND THE EXODUS, 1990-1984

5. Egypt

 

Shifting Identities
Enduring Daily Life in the U.S.S.R.
The Politicization of Soviet Jewry

 

6. Jewish Identity

 

Ethnic Ambivalence
Remnants of Behavior
Accepting Ethnic Identity and Shifting to Action

 

7. Ethnicity: In the Community, at School, and at Work

 

Remnants of Jewish Community
Shrinking Educational Opportunities for the Children
The Threat of Economic Limitations for the Children

 

8. The Exodus

 

Breaking Old Patterns
Gathering Courage and Information
Emigration: Moving through the Process
A Soviet Jewish Analysis of Refusal
Wandering in the Wilderness: The Transition

 

PART III. THE PROMISED LAND, 1975-1984

9. Selecting New Strategies for the New World

 

Hartford: The New Context
Initial Preoccupations: Interpreting the Alternatives
The Volunteers: A Personal Invitation to Jewish Community

 

10. Incorporating New Variables

 

Education: Making Critical Choices for the Children
Economic Production: Encountering the Capitalist System
Alternatives in Economic Production

 

11. Involvement with Community Life

 

Kinship and Personal Contacts
Social Structure and Community
"American Politics Is One of the Best Entertainments"

 

12. Religion and Identity in the Promised Land

 

Initial Expectations
Reported Jewish Behaviors
Expressions of Jewish Identity
The Affiliated
The Unaffiliated with "Jewish Hearts"
Rejecting Ascription
"There is Judaism in Us So Deep Inside That, When It Matters, It Comes Out; but When It Doesn't, It's Buried"

 

CONCLUSION

 

Who Am I?
Where Do I Fit into This New World?
What Does It Mean to Be a Jew Now?

 

NOTES

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

Compares the experiences of Soviet/Russian Jewish immigrants to the U.S. during two different time frames.

Description

This ethnographic study compares and contrasts the changing ethnic identity of those Russian Jews who settled in Hartford, Connecticut between 1881 and 1930 with that of the Soviet Jews who remained in Russia after the Revolution, became Soviet citizens, and emigrated after 1975. Although both groups were labeled "Jews," their internal definitions of what constituted being Jewish and their personal experiences were radically different. Using both archival and contemporary oral histories, Betty N. Hoffman traces the stories of real people whose lives and choices were affected by both their ethnic identity and the larger movements around them as they made new homes in the United States.

Betty N. Hoffman is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University, Adjunct Instructor of Anthropology and Social Science at Saint Joseph College, and Project Director of Witness to War: 1941–1945: The Soviet Jewish Experience at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.

Reviews

"The book provides detailed accounts of various aspects of life in the former U.S.S.R. and the adjustment process in the U. S., especially Hartford. It provides a good background as to how changes in both Russia and America affected the 'old' East European American Jewish community and the ex-Soviet 'New Americans.' " — Walter P. Zenner, editor of Persistence and Flexibility: Anthropological Perspectives on the American Jewish Experience