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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Geographies of ethnic politics : Jewish survival and continuity in Vancouver BC Jackson, Sara Lindsay

Abstract

Judaism and the history of the Jewish Diaspora are full of stories of how the Jews have overcome innumerable threats to physical and spiritual survival. Assimilation is one of these pressures and today particularly in North America assimilation is commonly viewed as the greatest danger to Jewish survival and continuity. Historically, attempts to contain Jews and Judaism have been enforced from both inside and outside Jewish communities. Using Vancouver as a study site, this thesis investigates how the history of (Jewish) ethnic politics, intermarriage, matrilineal descent, and Canadian multiculturalism facilitate the racialization of Jewish boundaries from within the Jewish community itself. Through interviews with secular and religious community leaders as well as the use of archival materials the thesis also illustrates how smaller ethnic communities outside of Diasporic cultural centres (Toronto and Montreal in the case of Canadian Jews) both maintain and challenge dominant beliefs on assimilation and what it means to be Jewish.

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