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February 10, 1989 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-10

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

I ANALYSIS

Soviet Emigres

4

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16

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1989

Jews are going to America. So
$60 million of the campaign's
$100 million goal will be
spent in the United States.
The remainder will be used to
bolster Israel's absorption
system, according to
Weisband.
The plan also acknowledges
the need for aliyah, and seeks
to reward Jews going to Israel
by offering them grants.
Those moving to the United
States would receive loans,
perhaps from banks, with the
interest to be paid from UJA
coffers, says Weisband.
But the controversies and
negotiations between Ameri-
can Jewish community lead-
ers and Jewish Agency of-
ficials don't seem to lessen
the burden on the Russian
residents of the Gilo Absorp-
tion Center. Their problems
are immediate.
Their apartments, built one
on top of another like a
honeycomb, are gray and
cheerless. Ceilings leak,
plaster hangs everywhere
and water seeps into apart-
ments from the porches when
it rains, residents say.
"It's like a war," says Raya
Tsaluyk, a single mother of
two, of the Russians' ex-
perience with the Israeli
authorities. She recently
moved out of the absorption
center after a four-year stay,
but says that "some of these
people just can't move out."
Uri Gordon, the Jewish
Agency's head of aliyah and
absorption, sees it differently.
"It's very convenient for them
in the absorption centers," he
says of those who stay on.
"But we need these places for
new immigrants arriving?'
Gordon says his job is to
house olim (new immigrants)
for six months. After that, the
newcomers must turn to the
government with their hous-
ing problems.
Older immigrants who can-
not find an apartment must
stay with relatives or, if they
have none in Israel, may
enter old-people's homes, ex
plains Ida Ben-Shitrit,
spokeswom'an for the Absorp-
tion Ministry.
Responds Tsaluyk: "[The
authorities] have to under-
stand that they cannot throw
out old couples. They can't
close their eyes and do this."
She and her friends at Gilo
say news of poor conditions of
the absorption center reaches
Jews in the USSR, who then
opt to go somewhere other
than Israel.
Yuri Shtern of the Soviet
Jewry Zionist Forum worries
about the same thing. He says
the situation, and world
Jewry's response to it, will on-
ly strengthen the dynamics

already at play and may even-
tually remove Israel from the
list of possible destinations
for Soviet Jews.
"We must not create a clos-
ed circle where more and
more people going are to the
States and more money is go-

Yuri Shtern:
Forcing Soviet Jews to come to
Israel won't work.

ing to absorb them and, as a
result, there would be less
Money going to Israel, so even
more Jews will go to the
States," he says.
Aliyah and absorption are
what unites Jews in the
Diaspora with Israel, Shtern
says. "The first priority
should be aliyah to Israel. We
are inviting the American
Jewish community to help
improve the situation here."
Not all Soviet Jews see the
need for a new fund-raising
push. Rima Gelman came to
Israel 17 years ago. She also
lived the United States, but
says she prefers Israel be-
cause, despite the problems,
she is at home here.
When it comes to aliyah,
she says Israel should face
reality. If the country can't
absorb even the relatively few
immigrants who arrive, Gel-
man says "Israel should say
to these people, 'we are not
organized to meet you. Do not
come?"
Shtern, however, believes
there is a way out. The
answer is a partnership
among olim organizations
like the Forum, the Jewish
Agency and the Israeli
government. Through co-
operation with Diaspora com-
munities along the lines of
Project Renewal, Shtern and
his group hope Israel's ab-
sorption capacity can be im-
proved before the circle closes
completely.

Soviet Jews
Lobby Government

Sharansky, Nudel, Begun,
Mendelevitch. No other im-
migrant group in Israel has

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