Cover image for The Soviet Jewish Americans
The Soviet Jewish Americans
Orleck, Annelise.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 216 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
What they left behind and why they left -- Remembering Soviet Jewish life -- How and why they left -- What they found and what they created in the United States -- Settling Soviet Jewish America: New York and beyond -- Gender and generation: the varied rhythms of acculturation -- Epilogue: Personal and political transformations--Soviet Jewish life in the United States after 25 years of immigration.
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.J5 O68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This lively, moving narrative provides the first comprehensive account of the emigration of nearly 500,000 Soviet Jews to the United States between 1967 and 1997. By weaving a wide variety of immigrant voices and photographs together with historical, journalistic, social service, and psychological studies of Soviet Jewish immigration, this book offers a comprehensive and highly readable introduction to the history, politics, and culture of this important new American population. Topics covered include the varied reasons for their exodus from the Soviet Union, what they found in the United States, the communities they created there, and the cultural problems they encountered. The author, an expert on this group, dispels stereotypical notions about Soviet Jewish immigrants by exploring the tremendous social, political, and cultural diversity of the nearly half million Soviet Jews now living in the United States.

Making abundant use of interviews and photographs, this book is as accessible as it is informative. It opens with a history of Jewish life in the Soviet Union as remembered by elderly immigrants. Theirs are gripping memoirs of the turbulence of revolutionary Russia, the horror of Nazi occupation, Josef Stalin's post-war assault on surviving Jewish leaders, and the emergence from the ashes of a flourishing Jewish counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Immigrant voices narrate the history of this Jewish exodus, which began as a protest movement by a handful of courageous activists and developed into a mass migration. The second half of the book vividly evokes life in Soviet Jewish communities across the United States, from the crowded urban landscape of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to the palmy, smoggy enclave of West Hollywood, California. Class, gender, and cultural and political divisions are all addressed in this fascinating portrait of a complex and diverse community.

Author Notes

ANNELISE ORLECK is associate professor of history and women's studies at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working Class Politics in the U.S. (1995) and co-editor of The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right (1997). Her next book is a study of women and welfare activism in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a native of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, home to a large community of Soviet Jewish Americans.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Orleck's excellent study provides the first full-scale survey of Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union (FSU) to the US between 1967 and 1997. Orleck (Dartmouth College) presents a complex portrait of this immigration, outlining differences between the various immigrant waves, Jews from different regions of the FSU, different destination communities, and gender and generational differences. She also ably summarizes the causes of the immigration and the process of immigrant absorption, with special emphasis on Brighton Beach, New York ("Little Odessa"), where the author herself was raised and studied the immigration at firsthand. Interviews and press reports are the major primary sources for this work; census data and information from national and local Jewish population surveys have not been used. Otherwise, this is a model survey: well-researched, highly readable, and properly contextualized. For all libraries. upper-division undergraduates and above. J. D. Sarna Brandeis University

Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Introduction: The Third and Fourth Waves of East European Jewish Immigration
What They Left Behind and Why They Left Remembering Soviet Jewish Life
How and Why They Left: The Culture and Politics of Soviet Jewish Emigration, 1967-1997
What They Found and What They Created in the United States Settling
Soviet Jewish America: New York and Beyond Gender and Generation: The Varied Rhythms of Acculturation
Epilogue: Personal and Political Transformations: Soviet Jewish Life in the United States after 25 Years of Immigration