Russian-Jewish Immigrants in the U.S:Social Portrait, Challenges, and AJC Involvement

Russian-Jewish Immigrants in the U.S.:

Social Portrait, Challenges, and AJC Involvement[1]

                                     By Sam Kliger, Director, Russian Affairs, AJC



Russian-Jewish immigrants to the United States and their families encounter serious economic, political, and cultural challenges. On the one hand they are eager to integrate into the American Jewish community, but on the other they want to maintain a degree of separation, a comfort zone enabling them to feel socially, culturally, religiously, politically, linguistically, and even economically distinctive.  AJC is well positioned to provide Russian-speaking Jews with an attractive organizational home that helps them express their values and address their concerns.


Russian-Jewish Immigration to the United States

The exact number of Russian-speaking Jews living in this country is unknown, but is generally estimated at about 700,000.[2]  The 2002–03 population survey conducted by the UJA-Federation of New York found that 19 percent of Jews in the five boroughs of New York City (roughly 220,000 people) were Russian speakers.[3]  However many indicators suggest that the figure may be significantly higher,[4] as many as 300,000.   Nationwide, the number of Russian-speaking Jews probably exceeds that of Russian and Ukrainian Jews combined. New York today has more Russian Jews than any other city in the world.   

Russian-speaking Jews came to this country in two major waves, about 30% entering before 1990, and the other 70% after. They settled in enclaves of major metro areas, either in the inner cities (South Brooklyn, NY; North East Philadelphia; Brookline, MA) or in affluent suburbs (Northern New Jersey, Newton, MA, Buck County, PA, Palo Alto, CA). While not constituting a homogeneous group, Russian-speaking Jews are nevertheless products of the same “civilization.” They share similar experiences of life in the Soviet Union as well as similar values.  Their experience in the U.S. does not vary much from city to city.

Soviet hostility toward Jews followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to millions of Soviet Jews leaving to seek refuge elsewhere.  Over a million of them settled in Israel, hundreds of thousands emigrated to European countries—primarily Germany—and others landed in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  

The Russian-speaking Jewish community in the U.S. got its start in the early 1970s, when the Soviet government, seeking détente with the West, began to allow some Jews to leave for Israel. The regime claimed it was permitting this for the humanitarian reason of family reunification.  Thus, many Soviet Jews got out of the country after receiving invitations from real or fictional relatives in Israel. Some on the way to Israel “dropped out” in Vienna and applied to come to the United States as political refugees. The Israeli government strongly objected and chastised those who decided to go to the West, but the leadership of the American Jewish community upheld the principle of freedom of choice, and by the late 1970s as many Soviet Jews were coming to the U.S as to Israel.[5]

In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which tied the economic benefit of most-favored-nation status for the Soviet Union to that country’s allowing its citizens, Jews and non-Jews, to emigrate.  The Soviet regime reacted defensively, slipping back into full-blown repression and cutting down sharply on Jewish emigration.  Exit visa requests were denied and many Jews who had already applied for them lost their jobs, creating the category of “refuseniks,” people refused the right to leave the country.  Nevertheless, the outflow did not stop entirely, as some did get permission to leave, especially after the 1975 Helsinki Accord signed by 35 European nations including the U.S., Canada, and the Soviet Union. About a third of the Russian-speaking Jewish population now living in America arrived during the 1970s.[6]

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979, the subsequent U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics of 1980, and the return to an overtly hostile U.S.- Soviet relationship, Soviet authorities clamped down harshly on exit visas and emigration dried up for nearly a decade.  It began slowly returning in 1987 during Gorbachev’s “perestroika” and gradually increased, especially after Gorbachev strengthened contacts with President Reagan and European leaders, who pushed him to liberalize Soviet emigration policy. 

In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment classifying Soviet Jews and certain other religious communities as persecuted groups, automatically qualifying them for refugee status.  Over the next decade, a huge wave of new Russian-Jewish immigrants headed to American shores.  This wave, which sometimes brought as many as 25,000 new émigrés a year to New York,[7] began to recede in the early 2000s.  In the aftermath of 9/11, when the United States toughened its immigration policy, the number of Jewish refugees from the FSU dropped even more sharply.  


Socio-Economic Integration

            The Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants of the 1970s and early 1980s integrated relatively quickly into American society because about 80% of them were refugees or relatives of refugees, and hence entered the U.S. with a politicized identity, stigmatized in the USSR and psychologically prepared for permanent settlement in the U.S. no matter what the hardships. Some started Americanizing themselves while still in the USSR by learning English, preparing professionally, and accumulating knowledge about America, a process sociologist Robert Merton has called “anticipatory socialization.”

            The immigrants of the 1990s were different.  They left home primarily because of economic collapse, fear of possible pogroms, and disintegration of the state. This wave was less politicized and, ironically, less prepared for integration into American life.  It included large numbers of non-Western Jews, such as Bukharian, Georgian and Mountain Jews.[8]   Over the last few years, a noticeable number of Russian-speaking Jews who initially went to Israel have chosen “second emigration” to the U.S. 

“Russian” Jews retain strong links with loved ones in Israel.  Sixty-one percent of them have relatives in Israel and another 20% have more distant relatives or close friends there.[9] This reality has had a large political impact, tying American Russian-speaking Jews closely to Israel emotionally and triggering an outburst of pro-Israel activism. Russian-speaking Jews are also well connected with those who went to other Diaspora countries, such as Canada, Germany, and Australia.[10] These close connections made them a global community.  

Russian-speaking Jews in the United States place great value on education, just as they did in the USSR.  Virtually all young Russian Jews who graduate from high school go to college.[11] Indeed, Russian-speaking immigrants comprise the best-educated group in U.S. immigration history[12].

Based on data from Philadelphia and New York, it appears that a noticeable portion of the Russian-speaking Jewish population has made its way to the middle class. In both cities, more than 40% of households in which at least one member is employed report an annual income of $50,000 or more.    

Annual Household Income

                                    Under $30K        $30-$50K        $50-$80K         $80K+         Total %

RJI in Philadelphia, 2001[13]        44                 16                    22                  19             100

Philadelphia Jews,

1996/1997[14]                             26                 24                    23                  26             100


American Jews, 1998[15]             25                 23                    27                  25             100

RJI in New York,

2004, employed [16]                  28                   30                     21                  22            100


            Despite the challenges facing many elderly Russian-speaking Jews, social service professionals in the community see little evidence of hunger or homelessness among them.   It is rare to hear “Russian” Jews speaking negatively of the United States; almost uniformly, they bless the country for allowing them to live as free and proud Jews.  Across the board, there is a high level of overall satisfaction: 64% of those who have lived in America for nine years or more say they are completely or mostly satisfied with life here.[17]


Challenges of Integration

From the very beginning of the migration of Soviet Jews some 40 years ago, there has been a mutual clash of perceptions between them and the American-born Jewish community. American Jews, including many communal professionals, assumed that the immigrants would have a strong desire to participate actively in organized Jewish life in their new land, and they hoped that the newcomers would bring "fresh blood" to American Jewish life.

But the Russian-speaking Jews, while paying tribute to the American Jewish community for helping them, expected more assistance from their hosts, and resented being lectured and patronized.  Used to dependence upon the government in the FSU, many were stunned by the “tough love” attitude sometimes shown by the American Jewish organizational world, which helped support the newly arrived for several months and then expected them to stand on their own.  The absence of a truly welcoming and partnering attitude led the Russians to wonder if they would be allowed to join the American Jewish community while retaining some significant elements of their own culture, and whether the Americans were ready to hear the lessons the newcomers had learned as Jews in the Soviet Union.  There was a suspicion that the Jewish community perceived them as second-class Jews, useful only as “a source of new revenues for the established bureaucracies.”[18]

Stereotypes on both sides generated multiple myths that even today flow through the American Jewish mainstream about Russian Jews, and in the Russian-speaking community about American Jews.  

Poverty, laziness, dependency, and involvement with organized crime are only some of the stigmas circulating about “the Russians.”[19]  Oral Reports and publications indicate that some American Jews depict Russian Jews as not “Jewish enough” who not only are ignorant of and indifferent to Jewish religion and tradition, but also are insensitive to American Jewish culture[20].  Yet others consider Russian-speaking Jews to be right wing[21], narrow-minded extremists in their political and social views.  Some blame American Russian-speaking Jews for supporting the right-wing Israeli political party “Israel Beiteinu” and its leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman[22].

Russian Jews, in turn, often generalize that American Jews are interested only in money and self-promotion, and that elements of high culture such as literature, poetry, dance, music, and theater are beyond their narrow minds.  It is sometimes suggested that American Jews are rich, spoiled, uneducated, and hypocritical, and on top of that “extremely liberal leftists,” almost communists—the ultimate sin.

            This gap reflects the divergent cultures these two parts of the Jewish people have internalized over the past century.  The organized American Jewish community has developed under the influence of Protestant culture, which emphasizes communal religious practice—connection to a house of worship and denomination—individual responsibility, rule of law, voluntarism, and charity, with little emphasis on ideology or theology. The Reform and Conservative movements in American Judaism are especially good examples of adaptation to American liberal Protestant culture. American Jews are close to liberal and moderate Protestants on many socioeconomic and sociocultural issues. [23]

            The values and lifestyle of Russian-speaking Jews, in contrast, are deeply rooted in two formative cultures: one is Russian and heavily influenced by reaction to the Russian Orthodox religion, and the other is Soviet communism, with its emphasis on atheism, political ideology, eschatology and reliance on the state.  To Russian Jews, faith is something very private and intimate, having more to do with personal feelings and thoughts rather than public actions.  Explicit forms of personal religious practice or communal identification, such as wearing a kippah, and a Jewish communal life separate from the general population is unfamiliar to them and difficult to accept. Being Jewish, for them, is less about action and community and more about relaxing with friends and talking about God or about Israel’s flaws and successes. 

For most Russian-speaking Jews, Jewish identity is not a matter of choice or religious practice, but rather a sociological fact, prescribed at birth and known to the individual and his or her family, not to be casually announced to everyone who wants to know.[24]  A Russian Jew may know he or she is Jewish, may be proud of it, may feel, think or even believe as a Jew, but rarely will act as one. 

Surveys indicate that Russian-speaking Jews identify themselves today largely by caring about the State of Israel (88 percent agree that this is “very important” for being a Jew), and through connection with Jewish history and culture.  Russian Jews are less likely than American Jews to identify Jewishly due to hostility, or on the basis of separation from other nations.[25]  Concerned about and experienced of anti-Semitism, they nevertheless tend to identify themselves as Jews through “positive” indicators, such as deep Jewish history and the State of Israel.


Religious Life

            The attitude of Russian Jews toward organized religion is one of detached affiliation.”  This means establishing and maintaining a comfortable distance from the synagogue but participating in some of its events and services. Only 6% of the Russian-speaking Jewish  population considers religion “very important,” and another 35% “somewhat important”,[26] yet many, including very secular people, attend the Yom Kippur service to say Yizkor, the prayer for the dead, thus commemorating in a very Jewish way parents, grandparents and other loved ones who perished in the Holocaust, in Stalin’s GULAG, or later. Such Russian-speaking Jews also come to the synagogue for lifecycle events like Brit Milah (ritual circumcision), bar/bat mitzvah, weddings, or funerals. 

Some segments of Orthodox Judaism, especially Habad and, to the lesser extend, Modern Orthodoxy, have been more successful in reaching out to the Russian-speaking community than the Reform and Conservative movements. This is because the Russian-speakers tend to see Orthodox rabbis and synagogues as “the real thing,” and to consider the non-Orthodox alternatives as inauthentic.  Habad and Modern Orthodoxy are also perceived by Russian-speaking Jews as more pro-Israel than the other Jewish denominations and therefore are viewed as more attractive.  

Many Russian-speaking Jewish families are seriously concerned about their children’s Jewish education. They despise the public school system (at least in New York City) for its low level of math and science education, poor discipline, crime, and drug proliferation in some schools.  On the other hand, they are reluctant to send their children to Orthodox yeshivas where, in their view, there is too much religion and too little science. Many also fear that children will become seriously observant and challenge their own comfortable lifestyle of detached affiliation. Also, many families that would be interested in sending their children to yeshivas or Jewish day schools cannot afford the tuition.  Some leaders believe this problem will eventually be solved through government vouchers; while others advocate building an inexpensive Jewish school system that provides basic Jewish literacy and strong secular education. Still others think that every Jewish child should be entitled to a certain number of Jewish school years, paid for by the Jewish community.  


            About 24 percent of the marriages of Russian-speaking Jews in New York are to non-Jewish partners.[27]  Interestingly, the intermarriage rate of those under 35 years of age is lower than in the middle generation (35–54 years old), which itself is higher than in the older generation (55 years and up). This phenomenon may be linked to a “return to the Russian roots” movement in recent years on the part of some young adults, and with it a preference for a marital partner who is a fellow member of the Russian-speaking Jewish community. Many of these people grew up in Russian enclaves in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles, attended top universities, and staked out promising careers. Having largely put aside their Russian-Jewish identities to achieve success, many are “coming home.”[28]

            Many of the intermarried families maintain a “dual religious loyalty.” The entire family will happily celebrate Purim and Hanukah, party on Christmas and New Year, and dress up on Halloween.


Political Views 

            The widespread perception that Russian-speaking Jews are mainly conservative and vote Republican is somewhat misleading.  On some issues like abortion—the only available form of contraception that was available in the Soviet Union—they are liberal, 66% thinking that abortion should be legal under any circumstances.[29] Also, over one-third of the Russian-speakers consider themselves political independents, and in some elections, especially on a local level, they often vote Democratic. It is true that the community, then small, went strongly Republican during the 1980s, both out of affection for Ronald Reagan, who called the despised Soviet Union an “evil empire,” and because many staunchly anti-communist Russians suspected liberals of being soft on the Soviet Union.  But the Russian-speakers moved toward the center-left during the 1990s, many voting for Bill Clinton in 1996 and Al Gore (with Joseph Lieberman as vice presidential candidate) in 2000, probably because anti-communism seemed less relevant after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Voting patterns 2000–08

                        New York[30]                             New York[31]                             New York[32]                                         (September 2000)                    (September 2004)                    (September 2008)


George W. Bush           14                    George W. Bush           77        John McCain    65

Al Gore                        54                    John Kerry                     9        Barack Obama 10

Undecided                    32                    Undecided                    14        Undecided        25

Yet in 2004, the Russian-speakers turned out even more strongly for George W. Bush.  According to an exit poll, 77% of Russian-speaking Jews in New York voted for the Republican incumbent over his Democratic challenger John Kerry despite the fact that 55% of Russian Jews were registered Democrats and only 25% registered Republicans.[33]  This reflected a perception of Bush as the bearer of Reagan’s legacy—his strong support for Israel and his muscular position against terrorism—as well, perhaps, as approval of Bush’s tax policy that gave Russian families, many of whom depend on earned income, a few more hundred dollars to spend.  A similar pattern emerged in the 2008 presidential election when Russian-speakers preferred McCain to Obama.  The latest evidence of a decided Republican tilt came on September 13, 2011, in the special election for the 9th Congressional District in New York (Brooklyn-Queens), where the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner was contested by Democrat David Weprin and Republican Bob Turner.  In this election, Turner won the seat that Democrats had held for almost a century by getting 54% of the vote against Weprin’s 46%.   An exit poll of 340 Russian voters (77% of them self-identified Jews) outside two voting sites in Queens and three in Brooklyn showed an overwhelming Russian vote for Turner.

Registered as:                        Voted for:       Turner Weprin            Other

Republican       34                    Republicans      98%                 2%                   0          100%

Democrat         39                    Democrats        86%                 14%                 0          100%

Independent     25                    Independents    85%                 8%                   7%       100%

Other               2



The two main issues were Israel and the economy. The Russian-speakers believed that Turner, a Catholic, would be better for Israel than Weprin, a Jew.  In addition, they felt that electing Turner would send a strong message to Obama to change his attitude toward Israel.  As for the economy, this group of voters thought the Republicans would handle the situation better than the Democrats.

            For a great majority of Russian-speakers, global anti-Semitism remains a grave concern.  They deem it a very serious problem in the Muslim world (85 percent) and in Europe (83 percent), but considerably less so in America or on its college campuses.  Among the various ethnic and religious groups, they see Muslims as having the most stridently anti-Semitic views, while believing that Evangelical Protestants are the least anti-Semitic.[34]

The attitudes of Russian-speaking Jews tend to differ from those of other American Jews with respect to Israeli politics and the situation in the Middle East. Eighty-three percent agree with the statement that the goal of the Arabs is the destruction of Israel, not merely the return of occupied territories, while 51% oppose and only 26% favor the establishment of a Palestinian state.  Asked whether they would support allowing Palestinian sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem within the framework of a permanent peace settlement, 80% say no and only 7% yes. [35]  By comparison, in 2004, 57 percent of American Jews favored the establishment of a Palestinian state[36] It is important to note that regardless of their own personal views, the Russian-speakers respect the decisions made by the duly elected government of Israel, 79% saying they would support these decisions.



AJC and Russian Jews: A Natural Strategic Alliance.

            AJC is probably the most attractive major American Jewish organization for Russian-speaking Jews for the following reasons:

            1)  AJC has been involved with Russian Jews for over a century. The Kishinev pogrom (1903) and the consecutive wave of pogroms in tsarist Russia created the impetus for the creation of AJC in 1906, and its original mission was to protect Russian Jews from growing anti-Semitism. And as David Harris emphasizes, there is a consistent line connecting AJC beginnings with its concern a century later for “the situation of Jews in the former Soviet Union and the welfare of the Russian Jewish community in the U.S.”[37]

            2) Russian Jews like AJC’s firm and consistent position in defense of Israel’s right to exist, its security and wellbeing. Similarly, AJC’s fight against anti-Semitism and its historic role on behalf of Soviet Jewry is well known and highly appreciated in the Russian- Jewish community.  Overall, AJC’s global Jewish advocacy resonates with the Russian-speakers.

            3) Russian Jews understand the value of AJC’s sophisticated diplomacy, especially as carried out with the countries of the FSU.

            4) Within the spectrum of American Jewish organizations, AJC is considered moderate, centrist, and non-partisan, although there are some Russian-speakers who still view it as too liberal.           

5) AJC is the organization that first welcomed Russian Jews and cooperated with them as equal partners. When, in 1996, a group of Russian activists seeking partnership visited a dozen American Jewish groups, they received mostly cold and patronized treatment until coming to AJC, where they found a home where they are welcomed and appreciated.  This positive encounter led to creation of AJC’s pioneering Russian Jewish leadership program.  More than 300 potential leaders in New York, Chicago, and Boston have graduated from the program, and most now lead Russian-Jewish grassroots and actively participate in AJC and other Jewish organizations.  Two ended up on the AJC Board of Governors, three now serve on the AJC NY chapter board, two on the Boston board, one on the Westchester board, and one on the Chicago board. 

            6) As a highly educated group, Russian Jews are impressed by the intellectual level and professionalism of AJC publications, research, staff, and lay leadership. The professional head of AJC, Executive Director David Harris, is widely recognized as AJC face.

            Not only is AJC important for the Russian-speaking Jews, but the latter are also strategically vital for AJC and its mission.

            1) Russian-speaking Jews, as noted above, today form a global Jewish group—perhaps the only such collective—and therefore are strategically important to AJC as a global Jewish agency. 

            2) Numbers are also important; Russian Jews comprise about 20 percent of the entire Jewish community in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and other metropolitan areas.  At about the same proportion, they are an integral part of Israel’s Jewish population. They also constitute 90% of the Jewish population in Germany.  

            3) Naturally, Russian Jews play a significant role in AJC diplomatic efforts, especially with Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, the Baltic States and other countries of the FSU.  These efforts are especially important now, as AJC conducts intensive diplomatic advocacy related to the Iranian nuclear threat.

            4) The American Jewish community and AJC in particular would benefit from learning more about the Russian Jewish experience of life under totalitarianism, their fight for freedom in the Soviet Union, their understanding of Israel and its struggle, and their experience as immigrants to the U.S.  The lessons learned could provide AJC with fresh insight into a number of domestic and international issues. 

            5) AJC would benefit from engaging Russian Jews since they possess a sense of activism, enthusiasm and passion, especially in relation to the support of Israel.



            1. Over the past 10–15 years, Russian Jews integrated well economically and socially into American life.  They are rapidly entering the middle class. They declare themselves generally satisfied with life in America.  With a very high educational level, a solid economic future for Russian-speaking Jews in America seems guaranteed.    

            2. Nevertheless, there are many challenges facing them as they seek to integrate into the mainstream American Jewish community: mutual misperceptions and misunderstanding; lack of trust felt toward American Jewish organizations, institutions, traditions, and values; “detached affiliation” with organized religion and the organized community generally; and serious political differences on Israel and on some domestic and international issues. 

            3. Will Russian Jews eventually assimilate fully into mainstream American culture and/or American Jewry? The ‘Russian revival’ among the young shows that the process of Americanization will likely go hand in hand with preserving Russian identity within a Jewish context.  The model for the integration of Russian-speaking Jews is neither a melting pot nor multiculturalism. It is rather a relatively new combination of quick and full Americanization by younger people (in terms of language, culture, and socioeconomic integration) that at the same time maintains a cocktail of identities that include Jewish pride and Jewish identification, with Israel at the top of the agenda, plus Russian linguistic, cultural and behavioral patterns.  The second and possibly the third generation of these Jews will choose to continue being American, Jewish, and Russian simultaneously and seek to enhance each of the components of this complex identity. 

            4. If American Jewry is to thrive in the coming decades, it desperately needs Russian-speaking Jews as part of the mix. After all, since they taught their American counterparts a great deal about Jewish pride during the era of the Soviet Jewry movement, there is every reason to believe that today they have as much to teach American-born Jews as to learn from them.  The ongoing interaction will be greatly enriching for both sides.


[1] This paper is prepared for AJC Commission on Contemporary Jewish Life.  It uses data collected in various AJC-sponsored studies from 2000-2011 and materials  from the presentation at the Conference on the Contemporary Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora, Davis Center Harvard University, November 13-15, 2011.

[2] The discussion on the numbers of Russian Jews has gone on for decades.  A recent treatment is: Paul Berger, How Many Russian Speakers are in U.S, Forward, November 25, 2011. . .

[3] Highlights From Jewish Community Study of New York: 2002 -- Focus on Synagogues. UJA-Federation of New York, December 2005, p. 4.

[4] Walter Ruby, “Big Undercount In New Survey, Russians Claim,” The Jewish Week, July 2003.

[5] David A. Harris, “A Note on the Problem of the “Noshrim,” Soviet Jewish Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1976;  David A. Harris, In the Trenches, (Ktav Publishing House, 2000).


[6] “Election 2000: Russian Jews as Voters in New York City,” Study Conducted for The American Jewish Committee by Research Institute for New Americans (RINA), (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2001).

[7] S. Ain, “Ex-Soviet Jews Now Largest Group Settling in City,” The Jewish Week, July-August 1993; Steven Gold, “Soviet Jews in the United States”, American Jewish Yearbook 94, (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1994).

[8] Strizhevskaya, N. and Knopp, A. “Bukharians in New York. A Review of the Community’s Unique Jewish Life and Infrastructure,” Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal, UJA Federation of New York, 2 September  2004; Mountain Jews: Customs and Daily Life in the Caucasus,  The Israel Museum (Jerusalem), 2002.

[9] “Presidential Election 2004: Russian Voters,” Report , The American Jewish Committee, Research Institute for New Americans, 2004.

[10] Ibid.  

[11] Sam Kliger, Walter Ruby, “Russian Jews in New York,” Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd Edition, Vol. 15, Jerusalem, 2006.

[12] “Election 2000: Russian Jews as Voters in New York City,” Study Conducted for The American Jewish Committee by Research Institute for New Americans (RINA), (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2001).

[13] “New American Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia. Portrait of Russian Jewish Immigrants in Greater Philadelphia,” Study conducted for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia by Research Institute for New Americans (RINA), 2001.

[14] Calculated from: “The 1996/97 Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia.  Summary Report,” p. 20.

[15]1998 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion,” (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1998).

[16] “Russian-Jewish Opinion Survey 2004. Report,” (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2004).

[17] “Election 2000: Russian Jews as Voters in New York City,” Study Conducted for The American Jewish Committee by Research Institute for New Americans (RINA), (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2001), p.23.


[18] Ibid.


[19] Here are some quotes from the forum:   “Mixed with the people who the USSR knew where Jewish, were those who stated they were Jewish, those who the USSR wanted to get rid of and also emptied a few prisons into the US. Since the US had no paperwork of who was who they were treated as Jews. They received more and better benefits than those on US residents on welfare/food stamps. The US used them to show prosperity (propaganda) of these people to the world. Also mixed with them were spies and mobsters - but who knew”.


Another blogger (2010): “The area is mostly inhabited by ex-Soviet nationals… Strippers, hobos, hookers, drunks, druggies, transients, crooks - you name it !”

2011 post:  “Does anyone have real expertise on the Russian Mafia? They are extremely clandestine so solid info is hard to come by but I'd be interested in any anecdotal or more documented knowledge of their workings, organization, specific rackets, etc.”

Read more:


More on Russian-Jewish Mafia: RAPHAEL JOHNSON. The Judeo-Russian Mafia: From Gulag To Brooklyn To World Dominion, March, 2009 (


[20] Quote from a 2006 post at forum:  “Here is what I understand about the Russians in Brighton Beach...  Most of the Russians in Brighton Beach are ethnically Jewish, but are VERY secular. So they have Russian-Jewish surnames and most have no clue about Judaism.  To make things more complicated a lot of the Russian Jews living there are mixed Russian-Christian/Russian-Jew, so even though they might have a Jewish surname, their mother could have been Orthodox Christian and raised them to be Russian Orthodox. In addition I believe that there are just a lot of regular Russian-Orthodox Christians who have moved to the area over the past decade. I used to know a teacher/professor who often traveled to Brighton Beach and he would describe the Russians by saying something like "Yeah they are Jewish, however they're the type of Jew who would tell you that they are Jewish while eating a ham sandwich."

[21] Julia Gorin. New York's Russian Jews: streetwise, conservative, October, 1996. (;col1)


[22] See: Walter Ruby. Russian Jews in America Discuss Avigdor Lieberman. (The Jewish Week, 02/11/2009);

See also: Ben Sales. Young Russian Jews In Assimilation Bind. Hawkish new generation split on how, or whether, to engage with mainstream community. (The Jewish Week, August 2, 2011)


[23] Tom W. Smith. Jewish Distinctiveness in America. A Statistical Portrait, (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2005), pp. 76-82.

[24] Markowitz F. A Community in spite of Itself: Soviet Jewish Émigrés in New York, (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1993).

[25] “Presidential Election 2004: Russian Voters,” Report, The American Jewish Committee, Research Institute for New Americans, 2004.


 [26] Russian-Jewish Opinion Survey 2004 (New York, AJC Report, 2004), p. 2


[27] “Presidential Election 2004: Russian Voters,” Report, The American Jewish Committee, Research Institute for New Americans, 2004.


[28] Igor Zaytsev, “Russian Jews and Israel,” The Jewish Week, 23 August  2011.

[29] “Russian-Jewish Opinion Survey 2004,” The American Jewish Committee Report, 2004.

[30]  “Election 2000: Russian Jews as Voters in New York City,” Study Conducted for The American Jewish Committee by Research Institute for New Americans (RINA), (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 2001)., p.12.

[31] “Presidential Election 2004: Russian Voters,” Report , The American Jewish Committee, Research Institute for New Americans, 2004.

[32] “Russian Jewish Opinion Survey 2008. Preliminary Report,” Research Institute for New Americans, October 2008.

[33] “Presidential Election 2004: Russian Voters,” Report, The American Jewish Committee, Research Institute for New Americans, 2004.


[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] “2004 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion,” The American Jewish Committee, 2004.


[37] David A. Harris, A Century of Involvement: AJC and Russian Jewry. American Jewish Committee, November 2007.