Home > Timeline > 2009 > MAJORITY OF IMMIGRANTS FROM FORMER SOVIET UNION PREFER LIFE IN ISRAEL, ACCORDING TO MAJOR SURVEY

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Jerusalem – June 29, 2009 – As nearly 700 Russian-Israeli young adults begin to gather here for a major Limmud FSU conference, a new, independent survey finds that 64 percent of immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union prefer life in Israel to that in their country of origin.

This majority of those surveyed said they want to continue living in Israel even if they could immigrate to another country, in contrast to 28 percent who said they would like to live in the United States, Western Europe or Russia.

The HaGal HeChadesh Institute conducted the public opinion survey of 300 Russian speakers in Israel within the last week. The Limmud Institute for the FSU commissioned the survey.

Still, the survey reveals strong ties among respondents to the culture of their native countries. Sixty-two percent of the public originally from the FSU is convinced that the standard of Russian culture is higher than Israeli culture, compared to 6 percent who consider Israeli culture preferable.

“Results of the survey prove that there is a need for a project that gives the young generation of expatriates from the FSU an independent framework that allows them to feel connected to Israel and to Judaism, without giving up on the culture and values on which they were raised,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of The Limmud Institute for the FSU and chairman and co-founder of Limmud FSU.

The poll results come as hundreds of Russian-Israeli young adults convene at Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem for Limmud FSU 2009, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed Jewish and Yiddish author, Sholem Aleichem. More than 200 sessions and workshops on issues relating to Judaism, Russian-Jewish heritage, leadership development, current affairs, culture, community building and continuity will be offered.

Natan Sharansky, new chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, will be a featured speaker at the Limmud conference as he makes one of his first public appearances in his new role before a Russian-Israeli audience.

“In my opinion, there is symbolic meaning to the fact that one of the first events in which I am participating since become chairman of The Jewish Agency is the Limmud festival in Jerusalem,” he said. “Limmud symbolizes in my opinion one of the most important goals of the Jewish Age – strengthening Jewish identity and fostering greater connection between the people of the Book and their sources, with the Hebrew language and with the State of Israel.”

Besides Sharansky, prominent representatives from the realms of government, business, arts and culture, media, philanthropy and entertainment will join participants.

Among the survey’s other relevant findings:

43 percent of FSU immigrants want to educate their children in Russian culture.
18 percent want their children educated in Israeli culture.
29 percent want equal influence of both cultures in the education of their children.
57 percent of the immigrants complain about discrimination.
41 percent report that they personally encounter animosity because of their Russian background.
Also, those surveyed see the representation of Russian speakers in government and the existence of Russian media and of Russian cultural events as important central assets in maintaining their connection to Russian culture.

Limmud FSU brings together and empowers young Russian-speaking Jewish adults who are reviving and revitalizing Jewish community and culture and restoring and maintaining the tradition of lifelong Jewish learning and a strong Jewish identity. This successful and unique model of learning, volunteerism, pluralism, networking, empowerment and leadership development is ensuring a vibrant and sustainable Jewish future.