Germany was main refuge for Jews fleeing persecution last
year. Germany took in 19,262 Jewish immigrants from the
former Soviet Union in 2002, while Israel took in 18,878.
Those numbers did not represent a surge in Jewish immigration
to Germany but rather a drop in immigration to Israel.
As many as 100,000 Jews went to Germany since 1991, when
Germany modified its refugee policies to welcome Jews fleeing
antisemitism and economic chaos in the former Soviet Union.
The newcomers have more than tripled Germany's Jewish
population, which numbered some 30,000 before the current
German officials say the benefits offered to Jewish refugees
under the 1991 Contingent Refugee Act, reflect its "historic
responsibility" to make amends for its Nazi past.
In the years since the refugee program was adopted, Jewish
immigration to Germany from the former Soviet Union has
hovered consistently between 16,000 and 20,000 per year.
During those same years, immigration to Israel from the
former Soviet republics averaged about 61,000 per year.
America was the primary destination for Jews leaving the
Soviet Union during the late 1970s and 1980s but received
just 2,486 former Soviet Jewish refugees in 2002.
Last year the Central Council of Jews in Germany complained
to the government that its rules for accepting immigrants
were too relaxed. Only 70,000 of the newcomers have
registered with a religious community in Germany, the council