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April 08, 1988 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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MARLENE GOLDMAN

ew York — Despite in-
creased Soviet Jewish
emigration in this era
of glasnost, Israel has not
lured significant numbers of
Soviet Jews, with only 2,070,
or about 25 percent, of last
year's emigres going there.
A major barrier has been
the lack of employment op-
portunity, especially for well
educated Soviet Jews, accor-
ding to former Soviet Jewish
refusenik Herman Branover.
Branover, a professor at
Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev and known for his
work in Magneto Hydro
Dynamics energy conversion
systems, is trying to disman-
tle that barrier. He is chief
scientist' of a high tech
research and development
company launched about
three months ago by former
refuseniks and Western
investors.
The company is the Shamir
Advanced Technblo gy
Engineering Center (SATEC),
which plans to increase the
employment and housing it
offers to Soviet Jewish scien-
tists, engineers and
technicians.
"We want this to be a
positive program for absorb-
ing Soviet Jews in Israel,"
Branover said during a tele-
phone interview. Branover ex-
plained that previous pro-
posals to attract Soviet Jews
to Israel — direct flights to
Israel after emigration or sug-
gestions that the United
States not grant refugee
status to Soviet Jewish im-
migrants — antagonized some
immigrants.
SATEC is a component of
the 15-year-old Association
for Academic Soviet Im-
migrants in Israel (SHAMIR),
headed by Branover and com-
prised of- former Soviet Jews
in Israel. SHAMIR promotes
Jewish awareness and
. knowledge inside the Soviet
Union through telephone
calls, letters and - the 135
books it has published.
The impetus for SATEC and
SHAMIR came from the
Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneer-
son, according to Branover.
He explained that the im
migrant finds a less flexible
Israel compared to what he
found upon his arrival 15
years ago. Branover and his
colleagues had their choice of
working or continuing their
educations because of a
stronger Israeli economy,
fewer Soviet imigrants and

less crowded universities and
job markets.
"Now there's no choice,"
said Branover. "The over-
crowded universities cannot
absorb the immigrants." This,
he acknowledged, is hardly
an attraction to Israel.
Another hindrance to
Soviet immigration to Israel
to some extent is the new
Soviet policy of glasnost, ac-
cording to Branover. "The
new situation in Russia,
however superficial, is in-
fluencing a number of peo-
ple," Branover said, because
"some who maybe considered
to leave now are thinking 'it's
not so bad, maybe I'll stay.'
"But it's dangerous for a
Jew staying in Russia
because there can be no other
end than assimilation.
There's no Jewish culture or
roots there."
With SHAMIR's emphasis
on education, Branover hopes
to create a second category of
Soviet Jew whose first option
for relocation is Israel. "We
want- to create a situation
where Jews would think first
about coming to Israel and
then see how to escape," he
said.
SATEC runs a $4.5 million,
52-family housing develop-
ment in Ramot, of which 41
already are occupied. With a
$2 million contribution from
Revlon Corp. executive
Ronald Perelman for housing
and $3 million from Australia
Wide Industries Ltd. chair-
man Joseph Gutnick for
SATEC itself, plans call for
500 housing units to be con-
structed in Ras Amar, on the
outskirts of Jerusalem in the
French Hill area. The Israeli
government covers the mor-
tgages for the immigrants.
SATEC offers highly
qualified Soviet Jewish
emigres employment in their
fields, including chemistry,
computers, electro-mechanics,
mathematics and physics.
Specialists who emigrated
from the Soviet Union 10 to
15 years ago head the
departments.

"They know the Western
standards" of science,
Branover said of the new
emigres. "We're really
teaching Soviet scientists
capitalism."
Branover hopes SATEC will
spur similar programs. "Our
project is a show window to
create a new atmosphere in
Israel to attract Soviet Jews,"
he said.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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