East European Jews out and proud, says survey

By Nissan Tzur, June 23, 2011
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While the vast majority of Jews in Eastern Europe are concerned about antisemitism, it plays a minor role in the formation of their identity, according to a wide-ranging survey commissioned by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

The survey on identity and religious attitudes, which took two years to complete and took in the views of 1,270 Jews aged 18-60 in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania, found that a majority experienced their Judaism as "a stigma that no, longer needs to be concealed", according to Marcelo Dimentstein, operations director for the JDC.

About one fifth of respondents said their Jewishness had been concealed from them during their childhood, and because of that their Jewish identity was more important to them today than in the past.

One third of respondents said they were more involved in Jewish life now than a few years ago, while a large majority agreed that someone can be a good Jew without taking part in organised Jewish life.

Other results confirm that Jews have higher levels of education and better standards of living compared to non-Jewish citizens in the same countries. More than half of the respondents described Israel's role as a factor in creating identity "significant".

    Last updated: 2:19pm, June 23 2011