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August 31, 1990 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-31

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There are those who believe that trying
to acculturate the new immigrants to re-
ligion too quickly can be detrimental.
Gennady Shmukler is a member of the
Class of 1979, those immigrants who
came to the United States a decade ago.
He believes too much religion too soon
may not be a positive experience for the
new immigrants. He points to the tradi-
tional difficulty new refugees have with
everything from obtaining drivers' licenses
to rides to look for jobs.
"If they try to cram too much religion
down the immigrants' throats too fast,
you'll lose them to Judaism for 10 years,"
he says.
And Zvi Gitelman of the University of
Michigan cautions not to push too fast for
things like memberships in fraternal
organizations. He says the religiosity of
new immigrants cannot be judged that
"Their idea of religion is different from
ours," Mr. Gitelman says. "By upbring-
ing, they are not joiners, so it's enough to
get them to join a shul."
In Chicago, one of the six large cities
responsible for the resettlement of 80 per-
cent of Soviet Jews coming to the United
States, a Forbidden Book Club was estab-
lished by the federation to enable the
newcomers to read their own great works
of literature freely for the first time.

1 4,1* into
Jewish communities sacros s
States face significant problems of re-
settlement, but there are steps Zoinmun-
ities can take to improve that process,
according to the published results of a
seminar held at Brandeis University in
Waltham, Mass.
The findings of the 1989 seminar, pub-
lished in a monograph, Through the
Looking Glass, < are to be distributed
nationally in August to Jewish federa-
tions throughout North America and to
major national Jewish organizations by
the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
(HIAS), one of the co-sponsors of the
A number of points with immediate
on the resettlement process
e b earing fowni
„ t,h e seminar:
• Cultural dfiferences — most espe-
cially language prevent each popula-
tion frorq understanding the other and
often ca''''( -:anger and disappointment.
Soviet Jews do not see themselves as
a community and becoming one may not
be the goal for many immigrants.

Few critics of the conventional ac-
culturation process are as outspoken as
Rabbi Yehiel Poupko of Chicago, the se-
cond largest Soviet-Jewish community.
Rabbi Poupko believes the first wave of
immigrants and many in the current
wave have operated under what he calls
the Dependency Model of Acculturation.
He defines this as promoting attitudes
like "helplessness (psychological
dependency), victimhood (physical
dependency), ignorance (knowledge defi-
ciency), disorientation (social deficiency)
and poverty (economic deficiency)."
Rabbi Poupko advocates what he calls
the Responsibility Model of Accultura-
tion, which he feels promotes
"resourcefulness, and survival skills. In
the Responsibility Model, the new arrival
is viewed as having many assets which
can be cultivated to the benefit of his/her
resettlement and adjustment," Rabbi
Poupko says.
To this end, he charges immigrants a
fee to participate in his programs. That
way, he says, he doesn't increase
dependency and gives the message to both
the immigrants and their benefactors
that the immigrants are receiving a privi-
Rabbi Poupko further believes that
many welcoming activities for the immi-
grants are, in the long run, a waste of

as priorities to folic
• Current
defy stereotypes:
sian Jewish i rh

similar influx

1900s. Sov
much more


m for the ,a114#
Ihed, where pe
4nizations involved it
and debate current and fixture
Ongoing dialogue is critical.
Jews must, play a pivotal role in discus-
sions regarding their resettlement and
integration. Li

to be



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