New Research Aims to Understand 40 Years of Russian Migration in Melbourne

July 22, 2016 by Ayal Tusia
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Jewish Care Victoria in partnership with Monash University Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC) hosted the launch of The Jewish Care Victoria and Monash University Avraham Zeleznikow Russian Jewish Immigrants PhD Scholarship.

: Bill Appleby, John Zeleznikow, Prof. Ilana Snyder and Dr John Serry

: Bill Appleby, John Zeleznikow, Prof. Ilana Snyder and Dr John Serry

The 3-year scholarship will focus on researching the settlement experiences of the Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants in Melbourne, and the patterns of integration of their Australian-born children, who represent approximately 20% of the Australian Jewish community.

Scholarship recipient, Emmanuel Gruzman explained that his research will centre upon two key questions: ‘How did the Russian-speaking Jews settle in Melbourne?’ and ‘How did they integrate within the Melbourne Jewish community?’

The scholarship is jointly funded by Jewish Care, the late Masha Zeleznikow OAM and Dr John Serry with Monash University Faculty of Art sponsoring the tuition fees.

Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby spoke about the importance of the project and why Jewish Care is proud to be a co-sponsor of the scholarship:

“This scholarship will further our understanding of the immigration waves from the former USSR and the people who settled in Melbourne after 1975. It will also assist Jewish Care to understand and shape services to align with current and future care needs of this community.”

The scholarship has been established in memory and in honour of the late Avraham Zeleznikow OAM, who provided leadership to the Jewish community for over more than half a century through his roles as President of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society (AJWS) and prior to that, the Financial Aid Committee. He also supported and held a specific interest in assisting Russian immigrants who settled in Melbourne, alongside his late wife Masha Zeleznikow OAM, both as members of the AJWS Immigration Committee.

Professor Ilana Snyder, an emeritus professor in the Faculty of Education at Monash University made an address about the importance of the study to the ACJC and how it will contribute to future research. “The integration of this group of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union is a work in progress. We need to re-evaluate how the community has, should have and can in the future, deal with keeping Jews from the Former Soviet Union within the community.”

Mr Gruzman presented his research project, explaining the PhD topic: The intergenerational settlement experiences of the Russian-speaking Jewish migration in Melbourne between 1973 and 1997.

When asked why he decided to undertake this research, Mr Gruzman explained,

“Being a second-generation Jewish migrant myself from the former Soviet Union, it is natural for me to be interested in the research topic. I was often involved with the Russian-speaking community growing up in Antwerp and while teaching Jewish studies in Israel.

“I feel very honoured to receive this scholarship and in the trust granted to me and my abilities. It is a great responsibility afforded to me and I realise that I have to reach beyond my current capacities in order to produce a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the research focus,” Mr Gruzman said.

A key objective of the study is to assist in the development of service delivery by Jewish Care to members of the Russian-speaking community, and to provide the evidence base to further the relationship between the Russian-speaking community, Jewish Care and the wider Melbourne Jewish community.

About Emmanuel Gruzman

Emmanuel Gruzman was born in Antwerp, Belgium to Jewish migrants from the former Soviet Union. After being cut off from Jewish culture and religion in the Soviet Union, his parents discovered Chabad in Antwerp and became devout Hasidic Jews. Emmanuel graduated from Yeshiva in Israel in 2001 with a Rabbinical Degree.

Years later, Emmanuel furthered his studies and graduated in 2014 with a BA in Philosophy. He then completed an MSc in Sociology at the University of Tasmania as an exchange student and graduated Maxima Cum Laude in 2015.

Emmanuel speaks English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Flemish and French, with a working knowledge of Russian and German.

To contribute to the study:

If anyone from the Russian-speaking community in Melbourne has information that can help inform this study, they are invited to email Jewish Care at

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