Jews and others: Non-jewish jews in israel

Asher Cohen, Bernard Susser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This article deals with what the authors describe as 'non-Jewish Jews': the more than 300,000 immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union who came to Israel under the terms of the Law of Return (1970) who are not Jewish according to Jewish law (Halacha) but who receive automatic citizenship because their family includes members who are Halachically Jewish. The difficulty in defining and identifying these immigrants presents a striking case study of the difficulties in setting the limits of Jewish identity. Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has lurched and faltered over the past two decades in its attempts to categorize this demographic cohort. After analysing the broad context of the issue, the article follows the CBS in its convoluted endeavours to classify these 'non-Jewish Jews'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


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