Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Two Jewish Communities in Three European Cities: Patterns of Integration and Acculturation

Two Jewish Communities in Three European Cities: Patterns of Integration and Acculturation

 The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at the Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with the Oranim College, carried out a comprehensive research on various aspects of some European Jewish communities today. The research concept was formulated, designed and developed by Prof. Lilach Lev-Ari (from the Bar-Ilan University and the Oranim College), by Dr. Haim Fireberg and by Mr. Adrian Gruszniewski (both from the Kantor Center at the Tel Aviv University). The research was conducted, analyzed and published by Prof. Lev Ari.

 General Background

The phenomenon of Jewish emigration has determined part of its worldwide population distribution, since time immemorial. In the last decades, it became widespread and dynamic, as part of international trans-national migration. It is estimated that 3% of world population today is made of immigrants. Given the fact that 76% of world Jewry, including Israel, is concentrated in 15 metropolitan areas and big conurbations (including the so-called World cities), we have concentrated on part of these cities, like for instance Paris and its outskirts. Migrants in big cities enable the Jews living by them to experience mobility. However, our research also includes Jewish communities living in minor centers that became points of attraction for migrants due to economic or cultural reasons.

While the immigration to and the emigration from the USA has been thoroughly investigated, Jewish (and Israeli) emigration to Europe remains much more neglected. We believed that the need to carry on a research on Jewish migration to Western and to Central Europe today was an important matter also due to the strengthening of antisemitism, which was accompanied by many violent manifestations, including even barbarous crimes. In various European countries, especially in France, these have produced an increased interest in Aliyah to Israel or in emigration to other destinations.

 Research Goals

The research focalized on integration and acculturation patterns of Jews in Europe (including Israelis), who were living in the following cities: the Great Paris (the city and its outskirts), Brussels and Antwerp. The research has examined social, cultural and economic characteristics of two Jewish collectives: Jewish veteran residents in front of Jewish (and Israeli) newcomers in every location. We tried to understand the scope of social and cultural integration in the receiving country and the interactions among the two groups in each case, as well as compared among the three selected cities. We  focused on the feeling of belonging and identification with the Jewish people. The place of the State of Israel within this identity was also investigated, as well as the disposition to (re-)emigrate into this country. We intend to expose all findings in a comparative way, for two communities in three chosen cities.

The preliminary survey report was published by Prof. Lilach Lev Ari. The full text of this report can be read on-line or downloaded from this link.