... Jerusalem ... 22 Just as the new earth and the new heavens will endure by my power, so your descendants and your name will endure ... Isaiah 66 (GNT), 18 ... Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and its PALACE restored. Jeremiah 30:18 (GNT)


Aliyah an overview: the Jewish State of Israel Part III of IV - Soviet Jews

The Soviet Union (USSR)

During the period of 1948 to 1967 Soviet Jews made Aliyah to Israel from the Soviet Union. A minimum of about 22,000 Jews, mainly elderly people for family reunification, were allowed by the Soviet authorities to leave Russia to immigrate to Israel. At the time mass emigration was politically undesirable for the Soviet Union and family reunion was the only grounds on which Jews could acquire an exit visa. Jews needed a formal petition from family abroad to apply, and while the procedure was ongoing entire families in the Soviet Union had to quit their jobs, which could lead to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offence in the Soviet Union. Unfortunately going through al this trouble for an official piece of paper to be able to leave often resulted in a formal refusal. The liaison organization Lishkat Hakesher (liaison bureau), established in the early 1950s, kept in contact with Soviet Jews and promoted Aliyah amongst the Jews living in the Eastern Bloc during the cold war. 

During the period of 1960 to 1967 only about 4,000 Soviet Jews could leave the Soviet Union.
In 1967 the Soviets broke diplomatic relations with Israel due to the 1967 Six-Day War between neighbouring countries and Israel, which resulted in Israel attaining full control over Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. It was the time of Zionology, an anti-Jewish and ant-Zionist propaganda presented as an ideology on modern Zionism alleging that Zionism was a form of racism and that Zionists were similar to the Nazis. This was an anti-Zionist propaganda in the state-controlled environment of the Soviet mass media, accompanied with a systematic institutional state-sponsored anti-Semitic campaign. This made Jewish religious and cultural life virtually impossible. By the end of the 1960s most Soviet Jews still living in the Soviet Union were assimilated and non-religious. But, Zionist feelings were stirred up by their sense of pride that the Jewish State won the Six-Day War over the Soviet-armed Arab armies, and resulting in Jerusalem once again being Israel's capital city.

In those years the term Refuseniks came in use as an unofficial term for individuals whom permission to emigrate out of the Soviet Union was denied. It was typically but no exclusively used for the Soviet Jews. Some of them organized demonstrations, and a small group of 16 Refuseniks, two non-Jews, tried to leave in an small 12 seater Antonov plane they hijacked. But they got caught and were incarcerated resulting in the Dymshits-Kuznetsov affair in 1970, which caused international outrage and condemnation resulting in an increase of the emigration quota for Jews by the Soviet authorities. Gradually more and more Jews left, some adopting the status of refuges in western countries, especially the United States.

In 1989 about 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted permission to leave, and only 12,117 immigrated to Israel. In that same year the United States decided to change its immigration policy of unconditionally granting Soviet Jews refuge in the States, while the Soviet authorities ended their restrictions on Jewish emigration. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed giving way to a million Jews to make Aliyah to Israel. Of these 240,000 were not Jews according to Rabbinical Law but eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. The number of non-Jews immigrating to Israel under this Law has been on the increase since 1989.

Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: History