Edited by Ludmila Isurin and Claudia Maria Riehl
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society 44] 2017
► pp. 69–98
Chapter 3. Generation 1.5 of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel and in Germany
An overview of recent research and a German pilot study
This chapter offers a comparative overview of immigrant trajectories and integration outcomes of Russian-Jewish youths (the so-called 1.5 generation) who immigrated to Israel and Germany with their families over the last 25 years. At the outset, I compare Israeli and German reception contexts and policies and present the generic features of the 1.5 immigrant generation. Next I overview the Israeli research findings on Russian Israeli 1.5ers – their schooling, social mobility, cultural and linguistic practices, parents’ role in their integration, and juxtapose them with (still limited) German data. The final section presents two recent German studies of young Russian-Jewish adults and the initial findings from my own study among these immigrants living in four German cities. My interviews with 20 men and women, mostly successful professionals or entrepreneurs, indicate that their upward social mobility was facilitated by the continuous welfare support of their families, school integration programs, and low financial barriers to higher education. Despite common occupational and social downgrading of the parental generation in both countries, the 1.5-ers in Israel had to struggle harder to overcome their inherent immigrant disadvantage vs. native peers to access good schools and professional careers. Most young immigrants deem full assimilation in the host country’s mainstream unattainable and opt instead for a bilingual and/or bicultural strategy of integration.