PAGE 67
HOME | GUIDE | BACK | NEXT
Jews in the Soviet Union: 1941 to present

The Reforms: 1985 - 1991


Ida Nudel...



Natan Sharansky...



The first Jewish school...



A Hebrew language class...



The 1990s saw the emergence...



A Jewish war veteran...


THE REFORMS INITIATED BY MIKHAIL GORBACHOV also affect Jewish life in the Soviet Union. In February 1986, Anatoly Shcharansky is permitted to emigrate, soon followed by other refuseniks. Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner are released from their exile in Gorki in December.

The revival of Jewish life begins with the formation of cultural societies for music, theater and dance. Language courses in Yiddish and Hebrew, the latter no longer a banned language, are set up. In St.Petersburg the first Jewish gymnasium is opened, and dozens of Jewish magazines and newspapers begin to be published. The growth in the number of cultural associations leads to the founding, in December 1989, of the VAAD, a national Jewish umbrella organization. Its aims are to promote Jewish life, to combat anti-Semitism and to assist in emigration to Israel.

Now that they have the right to choose where to live, a great number of Soviet Jews decide to emigrate. Between 1987 and 1991 more than half a million Jews leave the country, of which 350,000 go to Israel and 150,000 to the United States.

For decades, the number of mixed marriages has been very high, approaching 50 percent. Only 10 percent of children of mixed marriages opt for Jewish nationality. This weakening of Jewish identity, combined with large-scale emigration, has brought down the number of Jews in Russia, once the largest Jewish community with 5 million people at the turn of the century, to less than half a million.



After being closed for 70 years...



Israeli Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres...


home next back