The Transnational Identity of Israeli Immigrants in the United States of America and Canada as a Result of Their Connections with the Local Jewish Communities
Doenyas, Alon Jonathan
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This thesis answers the question of how the local Jewish communities in both the United States and Canada affect how Israeli immigrants in both countries self-identify. It presents quantitative data regarding the Israeli immigrants and the host Jewish communities in both countries. This data reveals what seems to be a trend of Israeli assimilation into the American Jewish community and the general American society, while in Canada, the Israeli community ostensibly remains distinct from the local Jewish community and the general Canadian society. This research asks whether or not this is an accurate assumption, and if it is, why this phenomenon occurs. This study analyzes the host countries, the United States and Canada, and the guiding principles of their societies. It also examines the main motivations for the Israelis to immigrate to the United States and Canada. The Israelis’ exposure to American and Canadian Jewish life (as a religion but also as an ethno-national group), to the two Jewish communities with their different sizes, ideals, religious sects, and other elements are also examined. The daily life of the Israeli immigrants in both countries is also studied, with a focus on their occupations in their new home, their use of Hebrew and the transmission of it to their children, their connection to Judaism (including sect affiliation) and their relation to Israel. The most significant factor in shaping the identity of Israeli immigrants is the Jewish community that accepts them to their new home in the United States or Canada. The assimilation of the Israeli community in America was facilitated by the size of its Jewish community, as well as the prevalence of non-Orthodox streams, which managed to attract even secular-identifying Israelis. In Canada, the smaller Jewish community, and its disproportionately large Israeli membership, is constructed more similarly to the Jewish communities in Israel, and therefore there is less pressure on Israeli immigrants there to fully assimilate, rather than integrate, into Canadian society.