2nd generation Russian immigrants embrace faith

Immigrants from the former USSR are among the most secular Jews in Israel, but their children are increasingly returning to religion.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Russian Jews show support for Israel
Russian Jews show support for Israel
Flash 90

Immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel are overwhelmingly secular, notes a new Pew Research Center poll, but their children are increasingly embracing religion.

A new Pew study released on Wednesday reaffirmed what has become common knowledge in Israel – that immigrants from Russia and other ex-Soviet states are far more likely to be secular than other Israelis.

While 49% of Israeli Jews as a whole identified as secular, 81% of immigrants from the former USSR identified as such.

According to the study, while 36% of Israeli Jews believe the government should actively promote Judaism, only 12% of Jews from the former Soviet Union agreed. Similarly, while 29% of all Israeli Jews favor the establishment of Jewish traditional law as the basis of the State of Israel, only 8% of FSU Jews concur.

In terms of personal religiosity, a similar pattern can be seen. While 77% of all Israeli Jews believe in God, only 55% of FSU Jews do. Compared to 63% of all Israeli Jews who keep kosher at home, only 24% of Jews from the ex-Soviet Union do.

Israeli Jews as a whole are more than twice as likely to light Shabbat candles and Hannukah candles, and nearly three times as likely to keep kosher outside of their home.

Second-generation FSU immigrants, however, are far more likely than their parents to be actively connected to religion. A full 70% believe in God, 15 points higher than their parent’s generation and only 7 points less than Israeli Jews as a whole.

Children of FSU immigrants are also almost as likely as Israel Jews as a whole to keep kosher at home, or to light Hannukah or Shabbat candles.

Compared to 81% of FSU immigrants who identified as secular, only 60% of second-generation FSU immigrants viewed themselves as secular. And children of FSU immigrants were far more likely to become haredi, with 14% of second generation FSU immigrants identifying as such, compared to only 4% of their parent’s generation.