Jerusalem (Nov. 2)
There are fewer Jews living in the former Soviet Union than had previously been believed, a survey conducted by the Jewish Agency for Israel indicates.
According to the survey, which was compiled by the Jewish Agency’s unit for the former Soviet Union and Central Europe, there are 1.4 million Jews living in 200 communities in the Soviet successor states.
The figure is sharply lower than previous estimates, which put the total Jewish population there at between 3 million and 5 million.
“The survey is not scientific, it is not a census,” said Baruch Gur, head of the unit that compiled the survey.
But he said the new figure, compiled by agency representatives working in the field in cooperation with local authorities, is a reliable one that reflects “self-identified Jews.”
The survey, which breaks down populations by communities, “gives an important demographic picture” of the size and locations of Jewish communities within the former Soviet Union, he said.
That is important to officials of the Jewish Agency, which helps absorb immigrants from all over the world.
Last month, 6,187 Jews from the republics arrived here, according to statistics compiled by the Soviet Jewry Research Bureau of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in New York.
The total was slightly lower than the 6,207 Jews who arrived in September, the month with the highest aliyah total so far this year. But the October total was higher than any other month this year.
The October figure brings aliyah from the region to 53,388 so far this calendar year.
At the same time, 2,781 Jews from the former Soviet Union arrived in the United States last month under the government’s refugee program, according to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. HIAS put the total for the year to date at 29,243.