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Homeland holidays as anchors of immigrant identity: New Year (Novy God) celebration among young Russian Israelis

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The article presents the emerging forms of ethno-cultural activism among the so-called Generation 1.5 of Russian-speakers, who immigrated as older children or adolescents and came of age in Israel. It describes and interprets two episodes of the New Year’s Eve (Novy God) celebrations organized by these 1.5ers in Israel in 2015 and 2016 through the constructionist lens applied to ethnic identity in migration. The article explores the process of reinvention of homeland rituals by the children of immigrants by focusing on the emerging hybrid forms of New Year celebration in the Israeli context where, until recently, this holiday was deemed illegitimate. It examines the hybrid components of this invented (or renovated) ritual, which combines Russian-Soviet traditions with the local repertoire of Eastern Jews and other components borrowed from Orthodox and Secular Judaism. The main argument is that ritual celebrations are expressions of immigrant evolving ethnic identity, the need for empowerment, a claim for public visibility, belonging and social inclusion.
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Keywords: Ethnic identity; Israel; Russian Generation 1.5; migration; rituals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sociology and Anthropology Department, Western Galilee College and Sociological Institute for Community Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Publication date: January 2, 2020

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