Half of FSU Residents Eligible for Aliyah are Not
By G. Lazer
Based on figures presented this week by Nativ, the Jewish
community in the FSU is vanishing due to old age and
assimilation. According to the report more than half of the
880,000 people currently residing in these countries who are
eligible for aliyah are not Jewish according to halacha.
Seventy percent are over the age of 45 and the rate of
intermarriage among this population segment is 80 percent.
Other estimates are lower.
According to Ministry of Immigrant Absorption data the past
decade has brought a steady decrease in the aliyah rate from
the FSU. While Israel took in 34,000 immigrants in the year
2000, by 2007 that figure had dropped to less than 7,000.
Nativ statistics show among the 470,000 people eligible for
aliyah in these countries 53 percent are not halachically
Jewish. Nativ Chairman Naomi Ben Ami said, "According to
these figures within one generation we will lose the FSU Jews
as a Diaspora community."
The number of Jews and others eligible to immigrate based on
the Law of Return is in dispute. While the Jewish Agency and
Nativ agree there are about 900,000, the Joint speaks in
terms of 1.5 million. Estimates are that another 50,000-
100,000 Israeli citizens — immigrants who returned to
their home countries — also live in the FSU. The
statistics show that between 1989 and 2005 some 83,000 FSU
immigrants left Israel.