Thursday, July 14, 2005

Jewish Russian-Canadians outnumber Jewish French-Canadians

The Canadian Jewish News reports:
Russian has surpassed French as the second most spoken language among Canadian Jews, according to an analysis based on the 2001 census.
The report on immigration and language among Canadian Jews, the fifth in an ngoing series by UIA Federations Canada on the community’s composition, shows that Russian is the mother tongue of just over seven per cent of Jews in this country, or 26,500 people, and is spoken at home by a little more than 20,000 individuals.
By contrast, French is the mother tongue of 22,125 Jewish Canadians and is spoken at home by nearly 18,000.
I'm actually surprised the survey shows so few Russian speakers; when I wrote about the Russian community in Toronto several years ago, I was told there were between 50-70,000 Russian Jews in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) alone, and many if not most of them arrived in the last 15 years or so. The sad thing, however, is that that 7% or more is almost completely off the radar of the mainstream community. Toronto isn't the only North American city with this problem -- and responsibility's equally shared by both parties, who have radically different ideas of what belonging to a 'community,' and what being 'Jewish,' means. However, it is remarkable that the makeup of the community has completely changed in the past decade, but no one seems to have noticed. I really worry about that 7%+ dropping right off the Jewish map, within a generation.

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