Recently, I have published a post entitled “Why our social ills are not cured by our social medicines: the case of ‘race discrimination’”. An opinion paper in Jerusalem Post by Alexander Kogan “26 years of Russian Aliya: segregation, poverty and police brutality” is an almost perfect confirmation of the analysis in my post – this time in regard to the immigration (Aliya) of Russian Jews to Israel.
Yes, many Russian Jews share the feelings of Alexander Kogan – they feel segregated, impoverished and brutalized by police. However, those feelings are just … the feelings that was created by the Israel’s secular social medicine which was intended to cure the Russian Aliya from these feelings but brought the opposite result.
I know personally the nature of these feelings – my extended family, numerous friends in USA and Israel, and I went through the difficult process of curing from authoritative habits of the Russian birthplace, which were not suitable for the life in new truly democratic countries. We were cured when we replaced the social secular medicine by the Torah/Bible-guided medicine – all of us even those who never studied the Torah but have it in their soul (genes!). We have no bad feelings toward Russian culture – however, it was not suitable for the life in the Western World, and Israel is a part of this World.
While the Israelis expect the Russian Jews to learn quickly the Israeli’s culture and begin living in the Jewish Israeli realm, the Russian Jews want to preserve their Russian culture and continue living the Russian life in Israel, and it is bringing a “clash of civilizations” in Israel.
The majority of Russian Jews are the Jews of completely different culture – different from the Jewish culture of Israelis.
The Jewish Israeli culture in essence is a Torah-based culture with the following fundamental traits – of course, if you are not in the 10-20% Jewish strictly orthodox minority:
- Individual wisdom should be cherished and collective wisdom should be doubted
- Supporting your family and community by your own work and being personally responsible for the result
- The amount of individual wealth is not restricted and being respected at any quantity with understanding that a part of the individual wealth has to be spent for Mitzvah/Charity projects.
The Russian culture cherish something different, and the Russian Jews had been raised in this culture – of course, if you were not a part of the Russian elite:
- Collective wisdom should be cherished and individual wisdom be distrusted
- Heavy reliance on government help and therefore minimal personal responsibility
- Equal government-imposed distribution of wealth for everybody.
Upon arrival in Israel, the Russian Jews were treated with the social-justice medicine: free housing, food allowances, free health care, job-market consultations, and spiritual adjustment assistance through rabbis and social workers.
However, for many Russian Jews it was not enough – on the average, their social-economic status is lower than that of the Sabras.
The Israeli government and society provided the Russian Jews with equal opportunities. However, the Russian Jews demand from the government not the equal opportunities – they demand the equal status. And that is the true reason for their unhappiness and complains – of course, not for all of them but for many.
Let me end this post on an optimistic note: the great majority of children and grandchildren of Russian Jews, who were born in Israel or brought to Israel at a young age, do not complain – they are the true Israelis and the Russian traditions do not guide them anymore.