Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


To Washington, With Love

Russian-American Jews get the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue treatment

Print Email

Election Day is exactly three months away, so it is perhaps not entirely a coincidence that the White House has, under the banner of community outreach, invited a delegation of Russian-American Jews for high-level briefings this afternoon on a range of issues, including national security and healthcare reform.

It’s the first time Jews who emigrated from the former Soviet Union have been accorded their own special audience, by any administration. Organized under the auspices of New York’s Jewish Community Relations Council, the invitees include more than a dozen community activists and business leaders — some of whom have been active in Republican politics in prior election cycles.

“We feel it’s extremely important to establish this relationship and begin a conversation with the White House,” said Daniel Igor Branovan, a Stanford-trained otolaryngologist who, along with being actively involved in established Jewish groups like the American Jewish Committee and the World Zionist Organization, started a group called Russian American Jews for Bush in 2004. “We would like to stress how important Israel is to our community and how important it remains to Russian-speaking voters.”

Russian Jews have tended to vote far more conservatively in presidential elections than American Jews as a whole, but there is evidence that members of the younger, American-born generation might be drifting left. And, more importantly — and as Branovan clearly understands — whatever people actually do in the privacy of the voting booth, the way to get ahead in Washington is to be perceived as a potentially swingable constituency with sway beyond deep blue New York and New Jersey. “There are large Russian-speaking communities in Florida, which is a significant battleground state, and also in Ohio,” he told me. “So there are other states where the Russian vote is not inconsequential.”

So it’s one afternoon outing for the participants, several of whom have visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before with other groups, but perhaps a giant leap for a constituency whose most prominent national political player to date has been “birther queen” Orly Taitz. (They have, however, already had their own Lifetime reality show, last year’s Russian Dolls.) “I’m just glad the Russians are getting together to have involvement in the political process,” said Rabbi Yisroel Feldstein, who will represent Sinai Academy, a Jewish high school in Brooklyn that is overwhelmingly Russian. “It’s a small step from the immigrant mentality to the citizen mentality.”

Earlier: What a Country [Tablet]
Mother Russia [Tablet]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

PhillipNagle says:

It is not suprising that Russian-American Jews have voted more conservatively than other Jewish American groups as they have seen the evil of communism first hand and the ineffectiveness of socialism as an economic system. The kind of propaganda my grandparents got from reading the Forward on the other hand has led too many Jews into a fantasy land.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

To Washington, With Love

Russian-American Jews get the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue treatment

More on Tablet:

Klinghoffer at the Met

By Paul Berman — John Adams’s masterpiece is about an American Jew murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but the real opera is off stage