The Sephardim of Sydney: Coping with Political Processes and Social Pressures

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Sussex Academic Press, 2005 - Social Science - 188 pages
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The Sydney Jewish community is dynamic and vibrant, with many communal, social and religious institutions. This book investigates the Sephardic community of Sydney – their history, their experiences as new immigrants in a host society after arriving from traditional Moslem cultures, as well as the changes they have undergone since they arrived in Australia. The Sephardic community comprises about 5,000 of the 50,000 Jews in Sydney, whose majority reside in the eastern suburbs, in Sydney's multicultural inner?city “ethnic belt”. Although the Sephardim share some cultural features with the Jewish majority, there are substantial differences: they emphasize their cultural heterogeneity. Their experiences are viewed through the prism of their relationship to both the Ashkenazim and the larger Anglo-Australian society. Their inability to acculturate and assimilate into the Ashkenazi and Australian groups contributes profoundly to their self-image and to ethnic marginalization. … A negative ethnic identity and self-rejection, enhanced by rejection from the Ashkenazim and Australians, has a major impact on their everyday life and their perception of their social standing, especially on the younger Sephardic generation. This issue has been particularly relevant since 1988, when the Australian government moved to restrict Asian immigration. This became a media issue, with the Ashkenazim taking the side of white Australians and seeing themselves as superior to the Afro-Asian Jewish Sephardim, who are viewed as “Asians” by both the Ashkenazim and the white majority. The result is a sense of “double rejection”, which pervades this group’s political and social standing.

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About the author (2005)

Naomi Gale is Coordinator of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ashkelon Academic College, an adjunct of Bar-Ilan University. She is the author of Violence Against Women: Normal or Deviant Behavior? (Heb.), and was the recipient of a Golda Meir Post Doctoral Fellowship and a Sir Zalman Cowen Post Doctoral Research Grant, both taken at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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