Oleh from Former USSR Found Frozen to Death
Menu JTA Search

Oleh from Former USSR Found Frozen to Death

Download PDF for this date

A man found frozen to death last week in an abandoned warehouse in Rehovot has been identified as a senior engineer in the former Soviet Union’s space program who immigrated to Israel two years ago.

The man, Viacheslav Gelbob, 32, had been unable to find work in his field once he came to Israel and was forced to accept odd jobs in the construction industry.

The tragic story, widely covered in the Israeli media, is seen as illustrating the plight of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Many of these immigrants are highly skilled but cannot find work, particularly in their previous field of expertise.

Gelbob apparently had taken to wandering about aimlessly, carrying a bag containing a few belongings and sleeping in strange locations.

His body was found by a soldier and police determined he had frozen to death about a day earlier.

According to a report in Ma’ariv, Gelbob told Israeli immigration officials that during his Soviet army service he worked in computer planning at an army installation where Scud missiles were built.

After his army service, Gelbob was a computer systems planner in Soviet space centers and was regarded as one of the country’s experts in air conditioning for space vehicles.

Gelbob persuaded his wife, Raiza, a mathematician, to immigrate with him to Israel because of the poor economic outlook in the former Soviet Union.

Although his wife found a job as a math teacher in the Rehovot area, Gelbob was unable to find a job as an electronics engineer.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund