Jewish Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union: The Formation of New Social Networks, Integration, and Activity Spaces
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From 1976 to 2000, an estimated three quarters of a million Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union immigrated to the United States. These refugees were welcomed by both volunteers and professional aid workers from the American Jewish community who provided food, shelter, and a helping hand in establishing a new life in a new place. Social capital accumulated through membership in a global Jewish identity, both for Soviet and American Jews, provided the foundation for this aid. The shift in identity from #8220;American#8221; or #8220;Russian#8221; to #8220;Jewish & rdquol that provided the initial transnational social capital was largely the result of the efforts of the Soviet Jewish Freedom Movement, centered in Cleveland and New York City. Additionally, the descendants of Soviet Jewish refugees appear to be assimilating with native-born populations. Through interviews with Soviet Jewish refugees and other key participants, this dissertation examines the role of place in the shifting identities of Soviet Jewish refugees living in Cleveland. From the evidence gathered through this case study and building on the work of Bourdieu and Lefebvre, this dissertation culminates in the development of a new model of Scalar Assimilation that allows for identity shifts and assimilation processes to simultaneously operate at multiple scales with a variety of outcomes.