JERUSALEM (Dec. 29)
The year’s end marks the arrival of 475,000 immigrants to Israel from the republics of the former Soviet Union since the start of the immigration wave in 1989, Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz announced this week in a review of the agency’s activities for the year.
If present political and economic trends in the newly independent states continue, Dinitz said, 100,000 to 120,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union are expected to emigrate annually for each of the next five years. Of these, 70,000 to 80,000 are expected to come to Israel annually.
About 77,000 immigrants arrived from various countries this year, 65,000 of whom came from the ex-Soviet republics and 8,000 from Western countries.
Dinitz said that by the year 2000, the Jewish population of the former Soviet republics, now estimated at 1.4 million, is expected to decrease by 50 percent.
He said the combined efforts of the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government would fulfill the Zionist dream of bringing 1 million Jews to Israel by the year 2000, making Israel’s Jewish population the largest in the world with 6 million. The 500,000th immigrant is expected to arrive within the next few months, he said.
Meanwhile, Dinitz said the Jewish Agency had doubled its activities this year in the newly independent states, where 20,000 Jews studied Hebrew and 20,000 youth participated in Zionist activities. A total of 10,000 youths attended 40 Jewish summer camps in Russia and the neighboring republics.
The Jewish Agency also trained 500 local youth leaders as well as 800 Hebrew and Jewish studies teachers.
A program it initiated this year to encourage aliyah sent 40 teams to 150 cities to promote employment projects, programs for youth and programs to familiarize prospective immigrants with the absorption process in Israel.
Also this year, 1,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 18 from the newly independent states came to Israel on Youth Aliyah programs, and the Jewish Agency plans to increase the number in 1994.