Promise of Employment Luring Soviet ‘dropouts’ to Israel

The offer of jobs is proving to be the strongest incentive for Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel, rather than the United States or another Western country.

Twelve families, comprising about 50 former noshrim (dropouts) turned olim (immigrants), arrived here Monday from Italy, and three more families were expected later in the week.

They will join about 100 other Soviet Jews who came here under similar circumstances in recent weeks.

Most of the newcomers had been living in Ladispoli, a seaside resort near Rome, while they tried in vain to obtain U.S. entry visas. Many had been rejected more than once.

Israeli officials and representatives of local townships and employers approached them with offers of jobs and housing. The city of Ashkelon pledged jobs and housing for up to 5,000 immigrants over three years.

Mayor Giora Lev of Petach Tikva informed Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir that his city is prepared to absorb 1,000 Jewish families from the Soviet Union.

The problem is that Israel is experiencing high unemployment. Several thousand Israelis were recently laid off because of the economic recession. The unemployed have expressed surprise and anger that jobs are made available for new arrivals, though they cannot find work themselves.

DIASPORA COMMUNITIES HELPING

But Israel seems determined to seize the opportunity presented by the relaxation of Soviet restrictions on emigration. Up to 7,000 Soviet Jews are expected to come here this year. To accommodate them, the absorption machinery has been streamlined.

Newcomers now bypass the Jewish Agency’s absorption center facilities and are sent directly from the airport to the housing assigned them. They have immediate access to ulpanim, or intensive Hebrew courses, to enable them to learn the language and acclimate more quickly.

Overseas Jews are helping the process. Monday’s arrivals will be absorbed with the assistance of the South African Zionist Federation and the township of Rishon le-Zion, where the municipality is offering apartments to the emigres.

Other direct absorption programs have been undertaken with the assistance of the Jewish Federation of Metro West, N.J. It joined the town of Ra’anana, near Tel Aviv, in a project to settle dozens of Soviet Jewish families from Ladispoli.

The Soviet Jewish Zionist Forum, headed by former prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky, has teamed up with the New York UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies for absorption projects in Lod and Ramla.

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