Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Oddessa South

Clifford J. Levy - sounds like a Jewish name to me - is the NYT head of bureau in Moscow. Feeling something was somehow missing in Russia, he found it... in Ashdod.
As a resident of Russia, I found something poignant in the world of these immigrants. In their tumultuous history in the Soviet Union and in the Russian empire before it, Jews were subjected to brutal prejudice yet often flourished. And so their exodus has left a gap in these societies. Of course, Jews have remained, and communities are reviving. But in Israel, you can catch a refracted glimpse of what once was.
It's a fun article, and mostly accurate.

Although Levy, a one-day visitor, does miss another part of the story, which is that the richest folks in Ashdod, the ones who own the luxury apartments in the spanking new extravagant towers on the shore front, are mostly French. Or rather, North African Jews who left in the 1950s when Jewish life in the Muslim world ceased to be viable, made lots of money in France, and have been moving to Israel in droves these past few years as Jewish life in France becomes less viable.

Meanwhile, off in Beit Shemesh (and Raanana, and Efrat) another group of immigrants is moving in - the Americans. Jewish Life in the US remains viable, very, but for some folks it's getting very expensive (if you want your children to have a Jewish education), or less appealing (if your job is in danger): the Israeli economy is stronger these days, a development no Israeli planner ever expected.

Of course, all these groups also converge in Jerusalem, but that's a story for another day.


Anonymous said...

The last time I had khachapuri was in a tiny underground restaurant in St. Petersberg. I've wasted the last hour reminiscing about it. I'll have to find out if that Georgian cafe has Borzhomi water. Israel is hot enough that I should be able to drink it, salty as it is.

Is there more or less Russian being spoken on the streets as compared to 11-12 years ago? And is there anything to do in Ashdod other than find that supermarket?

isaak@ Israeli Uncensored News said...

lol ashdod is perfect example of Russian *gettos* in isreal-people there dont speak Hebrew living more then 10 years in Israel, and they celebrate silvestor and rosh-ha-shana without making big difference between them

Anonymous said...

That's pretty typical of any large immigrant group, just look at any of the really large communitites in North America cities. Usually it's the children who assimilate best, then the 3rd and 4th generation often want to find out about their ancestry. I hope they manage to keepthe library going that long.

Anonymous said...

Went to Tbilisi last month on business. LOVED the food. Why don't we have any Georgian restaurants in the USA? [pouting]


AKUS said...

Ashdod and Ashkelon are becoming "French" (North African French speaking exiles fleeing France or buying a home for safety in israel).

I disagree about the Russian enclave - yes, like all ex-pats, the Russian tend to live together - like South Africans in Ra'anana - but I have noticed a steady diminution of signs in Russian in stores giving way to just Hebrew as the Russian sabras become more common.