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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Sihman

Leading 2nd generation immigrants through community: meet Marina Kigel

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Her community “Crazy about Russians” (in Hebrew it sounds much better) is a Facebook meeting spot for first and second generation Russian-speaking Israelis and Israelis who want to know more about Russian-israeli sub-culture. Launched in October 2020, over 30,000 members join Marina's vivid community.

What made you start your community? Being a Russian-Israeli myself, I realized that even after 30 years from “The Big Aliyah” (Jewish people that immigrant to Israel) from USSR and ex-USSR, it’s still challenging to be Russian-Israeli.

There is an enormous cultural gap between the first and second generations and between Russian-Israelis and other Israelis. I realized that we need something called hybrid identity (special thanks to my friend, Dr. Dina Lisnyansky for finding the right terminology), after years and years of “Melting pot” politics.

What were the member’s needs that the community fulfilled? What is the main value it gives to its members?

Their main need was to understand that they can be both, that they don’t need to choose, that there is a place to talk in Hebrew about weird Russian food, or find cultural identification for themselves and their children. And there are always members that want to enrich their knowledge about Russian and soviet culture.

When you started it, did you think it was going to become what it is today, or did you have something else in mind?

Never! I was thinking about something intimate. As every content creator I had my megalomaniac thoughts, to be the biggest community for Russian-Israelis. I never believed it would happen but now we are almost there.

I recruited an amazing and devoted moderation team, people that I picked thoroughly from inside community. I think it was the best decision I've made about the community till now.

We have the same vision and the same way of thinking. Their names, in alphabetical order and also ladies first: Anna Avrahami Kainer, Anna Nudelman, Karin Koretzky, Alex Mitnik, Enosh Bar-Tur, Evgeny Stopin.

Even though communities are social structures, many activities and connections in the community can be quantified. What’s the main actual value your community provides to its members?

Everything. I think about our community as an online empire. A little bit megalomaniac, but I believe that we are able to support different needs – starting from job hunting to finding where to buy the best Pelmeni in town.

Does your community have a business model that helps you grow it?

We are working on it, and about to launch a business and career marketplace

What is the main difference between a community manager to a community entrepreneur?

I understand that I am a community entrepreneur, and I am learning on the fly. Since I am also a journalist, I see my duty first of all to be something like editor-in-chief in something between fancy magazine and history channel (we talk a lot about Russian Jews legacy in our community).

Can you give 3 tips for community entrepreneurs?

1. Be in control about content, but also know when to let it loose.

2. Find great team to surround you (moderators and admins).

3. Understand that it’s full time job and mistakes will happen, but as says Russian proverb: “The only way to refrain from mistakes is to do nothing”

The community on Facebook

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