NEW YORK (Jan. 8)
Nearly 29,000 Jews left the Soviet Union in 1978 according to the Soviet Jewry Research Bureau of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. The figure was slightly lower than that expected by Western diplomats, but by for the highest in five years. December’s emigration of 4197 was also the highest monthly figure in five years and raised the 1978 total to 28,858. In 1973, 34,933 Jews left the Soviet Union, with 4408 exiting in October of that year, the Bureau reported.
Despite the unexpectedly large number of December emigres.– just about 1000 more than in each of the previous two months — the annual figure failed to reach its predicted peak. News stories originating in Moscow at the end of 1978 reported that “well-informed Western diplomats” estimated that 30,000-31,000 Soviet Jews would emigrate in 1978, the Bureau noted. Soviet officials have not explained the rise from 1977’s total of 16,737, but it is believed they want the United States to lift trade restrictions that are linked with immigration, according to the Bureau.