By Aaron Barrie (Madrich)
In 1989 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev lifted restrictions on emigration, allowing Soviet Jews who wanted to make aliyah to do so. That same year 12,000 of them immigrated to Israel by the Law of Return. They set up stock in places like Haifa, Be’er Sheva and Tel Aviv, among others.
Although there was some tension between Israelis and the new Russian immigrants, on the whole the Russians assimilated quite quickly into Israeli society, perhaps due to some provisions being made for Russian-speakers.
Between 1989 and the present day, well over 1 million people from former Soviet countries immigrated to Israel, with 20% of Israel’s current population having been born in Russia. Today, Russia still boasts a higher rate of aliyah to Israel than any other country in the world.