Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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ZVI GITELMAN
Russian Publications in Israel
In
t h e
l a s t
d e c a d e
more than 150,000 Soviet Jews have come to
Israel, making them by far the largest g roup o f imm igrants d u r ­
ing this period. In the last five years the majority o f those leaving
the USSR have imm igrated to North America, bu t thousands
continue to arrive annually in Israel. T h e Israeli ethos o f dis­
couraging the use o f any language bu t Hebrew clashes with the
loyalty o f many Soviet imm igrants — especially intelligentsia
from Moscow and Leningrad — to Russian culture and language
and, more importantly, with the basic realities o f imm igration
wherein many people, especially o lder ones, do not easily adop t a
new language. In line with the traditions o f Russian em igrations
since the last century, Soviet Jews in Israel have been expressing
themselves in Russian, and to some ex ten t in Georgian, and the
Israeli authorities have been flexible and realistic enough to p a r ­
tially suppo rt the publication o f Russian-language books, news­
papers and journals. In fact, as Edith Rogovin Frankel notes, . .
T h e re is no o the r non-Hebrew language group in Israel which
can boast such a quantity and variety o f periodicals.”1
During the past decade, approximately 250 non-fiction books
and journals in Russian have been published in Israel. In add i­
tion, about 150 fiction titles have been issued. T he readersh ip is
composed largely o f recen t Soviet imm igrants, bu t includes also
immigrants o f a much earlier generation and , especially, Soviet
emigres in o the r Western countries. T h e re is some evidence, too,
tha t some o f this litera tu re finds its way to the USSR itself, and , as
we shall see, some o f it is designed for this purpose, among others.
This impressive volume o f publications derives not from one or
two large publishing houses bu t from a fairly substantial variety o f
authors and publishers o f d iffe ren t outlooks and motivations.
This pluralism, so much in contrast to Soviet conditions, is a
1 Edith Rogovin Frankel, “The Russian Press in Israel,”
SovietJewish Affairs,
vol. 7,
no. 1, 1977, p. 47.
6 2