Jewish Agency Reports Progress in Finding Housing for Soviet Olim

Israel apparently is making good progress in its crash effort to provide housing for the growing influx of immigrants from the Soviet Union.

Mendel Kaplan, chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, provided the latest figures last week during a seven-hour meeting here of the Jewish Agency Executive, devoted to Soviet aliyah.

Kaplan estimated that some 15,000 rental units are presently available in Israel, which he said should cover immigrant housing needs for the next six months.

The construction of another 15,000 flats will start next month, to be followed by 15,000 more, he said. Six thousand new units already have been started and another 5,000 flats are being rebuilt.

More than 30,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in the first four months of 1990, Uri Gordon, head of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department, announced during the meeting. He said he expected the number of Soviet Jews to increase in the months ahead.

The Jewish Agency is also preparing to absorb thousands more immigrants from Ethiopia and Argentina, Gordon said. He said about 1,000 Jews have come to Israel from Argentina so far this year, motivated apparently by the economic crisis in their native country.

JOB TRAINING AND PLACEMENT

Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, left Sunday for the United States, to boost fund-raising for Operation Exodus, the $420 million special campaign undertaken by American Jewry for the absorption of Soviet Jews in Israel.

About $130 million has been raised so far, just under one-third of the sum sought over the next three years.

Dinitz intends to meet with top donors to try to persuade them to give more. He is also scheduled to meet with senior U.S. officials at the State Department to expedite U.S. aid.

Meanwhile, the director general of the Jewish Agency, Moshe Nativ, briefed the Jewish Agency Executive on the problem of finding employment for the newcomers.

He said about 500 recent immigrants have been given work at factories in the past four months by arrangement with the Israel Manufacturers Association to allocate jobs for immigrants.

Jewish Agency emissaries are also active in Jewish population centers in the Soviet Union helping potential immigrants prepare for absorption into Israel’s work force.

Seminars are being held for Hebrew teachers and vocational training courses are being given, including one to be attended by 150 physicians that will open in Moscow and Leningrad later this month.

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