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April 16, 2004 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

STEPPING UP from page 37

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munal structures for Russian American
Jews.
By caring for itself, the community
rids itself of its image as clients of
Jewish community services, Fox says.
Furthermore, "You provide someone
that level of entree and comfort," she
says, then they become "participants in
other organizations as peers."
Most observers suspect differences
between veteran American Jews and
Russian Jewish immigrants to America
will evaporate over
time. It's just a
matter of when.
America "dilutes
and it changes
people's percep-
tion of them-
selves," says Gary
Shteyngart, who
authored the
acclaimed Russian
Fox
Jewish immigrant
novel, The Russian
Debutante's
Handbook.
In a few
decades, the rate
of participation in
Jewish communal
life among
Russian American
Jews and American-
born Jews "will be
fairly indistinguishable," he predicts.
In the meantime, some issues hinder
involvement, such as the cost of partici-
pation, says Yosef Abramowitz, presi-
dent of the Union of Council for Jews
in the Former Soviet Union.
"We should all rejoice at some of
'these new groups springing up," he
says. But, like most American Jewish
institutions, they "only represent and
service a relatively small percentage of
the potential market," he says.
Meanwhile, tensions between the
communities persist.
"Each time I meet American Jews,
they think we are all food stamp recipi-
ents," says Arkady Kagan, senior editor
of the Russian ForwareZ a national
Jewish weekly.
But Alec Brook-Krasny, the head of
the umbrella group of Russian Jews, is
optimistic.
"I strongly believe we will become
one community again," he says, noting
the shared ancestry of Russian
American Jews with American-born
Jews.
"Many of us have the same last
names" but pronounce them differently,
Brook-Krasny says to make the point.
"Your grandfathers decided to leave, our
grandfathers decided to stay." El

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