Olmert worried about ex-Soviet Jews


Israel and the Diaspora must act to help the dwindling Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union, Ehud Olmert said.

The Israeli Cabinet heard briefings Sunday about Jews living in the former Soviet Union, which according to the prime minister now number approximately 880,000 and have an 80 percent intermarriage rate. Olmert also said they have less than a 10 percent rate of involvement in religious activities.

“Taken together, the data raise a very significant concern that within a generation, the Jewish public will disappear from these countries,” Olmert said in broadcast remarks.

He called for new policies that will boost the attachment of these communities to Israel or desire to identify more strongly as Diaspora Jews.

“We are talking about Jews who are eligible to make aliyah to Israel and to the Jewish people as a whole,” he said.

Olmert further bemoaned data showing that in recent years, some 38,000 of the million Jews from the former Soviet Union who moved to Israel have returned to their native lands.

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