Eastern-European Jews move to Israel en masse


Eastern Europe


Passengers disembark from an airplane carrying Jewish immigrants fleeing the war in Ukraine. Photo AFP, Menahem Kahana

A massive "exodus" of Jews from Ukraine and Russia seems imminent. Tens of thousands of Jews have emigrated to Israel since war broke out between the two countries.

This was reported by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research in a report earlier this month, the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad writes. According to the report, 43,685 Russian Jews and 15,213 Ukrainian Jews arrived in Israel last year. Of the close to 10 million Israeli inhabitants, about 7 million are Jewish.

If the emigration of Jews continues at current levels for another seven years, more than 80 per cent of Ukraine's Jewish community will have emigrated by 2030. In Russia, it would be more than 50 per cent. This does not include Jews emigrating to countries other than Israel.

Mass emigration

An "exodus" occurs, according to the report, when half to three-quarters of the Jewish community leaves a country within a decade. This was the case, for example, in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.

The mass emigration from Russia and Ukraine is related to the war between the two countries that began in February 2022. Millions of Ukrainians then fled the country. When Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, there was also mass emigration of Jews from Ukraine.


Pinchas Goldschmidt, former chief rabbi of Moscow, who left for Israel in March 2022, called on Russian Jews to leave Russia immediately in early July. Russian authorities had shortly before called him a "foreign agent". According to him, conditions in Russia have seriously changed.

The institute examined migration from European countries to Israel since the 1980s. The rapporteurs generally find a clear link between the emigration of Jews from a country and deteriorating economic conditions or political instability there. The report distinguishes between the "French pattern" (Jewish emigration from France, Belgium, Italy and Spain increased sharply between 2010 and 2015 but then declined), the "British pattern" (in England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Denmark, emigration of Jews to Israel has remained roughly stable since 1980) and Eastern Europe, where emigration to Israel has been particularly high before the year 2000 and since 2022.



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