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I hope this guide will entertain American and Russian (and Jewish) readers interested in what happens when their cultures interact and fuse, as well as those very Russian Americans who will doubtless see traces of themselves in at least one of the five main archetypes.
*** Arrived in: 1917-1920’s, 1945 Social origins: Clerks, Tsarist officials, aristocrats, White Army officers, philosophers.
A few kvas patriots go well beyond the call of duty to their Motherland, “telling it like it is on Trans-Dniester” and exposing “court appointed Russia friendlys.” *** Arrived in: 1970’s-early 1990’s Culturally related to: The early wave of Jewish emigration from Tsarist Russia, which included Ayn Rand.
Social origins: Normal Jewish families, with smattering of colorful dissidents and black marketeers/organized crime; also many pretend Jews.
Or recall the blood-curdling and frankly threatening responses I got from one Irina Worthey (“Ira Birman”) when trolling a pro-Khodorkovsky Facebook group with inconvenient questions about his actual democratic credentials.
Or consider that Prokhorov got 90% of the votes at Palo Alto.
Prominent examples included Zworykin (TV), Sikorsky (helicopters), and Nabokov (writer).
My dad is an academic who moved to the UK with his family in 1994, i.e. ) are in fact Russian Jews, who are culturally distinct from Russians, albeit the boundaries are blurred and there’s lots of intermingling though Russian cultural events.
Topping off the cake, I have some White Russian ancestors, and am familiar with many of them as well as more recent expats via my hobby of Russia punditry.
They did not necessarily come to the US straight away: Many came via the great European cities, like Berlin, or Paris, where in the 1920’s, old White Army officers sat around dinghy bars, drowning their sorrows in drink and spending what remained of their money on cockroach racing. One girl I know originated from Russian exiles in Harbin, Manchuria (mother’s side) and Brazil (father’s side) who met up and stayed in the US.
White Russians tend to be well-assimilated into US society, and many of the younger generations no longer speak Russian.
As an in-joke among them goes: “What’s an American university?