The Ohio Jewish Chronicle
Serving Columbus and the Central Ohio
Jewish Community since 1922
OCTOBER 15, 1992
18 TISHREI 5753
DEVOTED TO AMERICAN AND JEWISH IDEALS
102nd Congress approves
Russian Gourmet Dinner
to feature Wedding Feast
Temple Israel to hold,
New Member Sabbath
Orthodox author to speak
at Education Day
Gross, Kastan, Haims
Advanced Gifts Dinner
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Ohio iii'.t.sociory Libr
1982 Velma Ave.
Absorption: The challenge, the opportunity
By Judith Franklin
"We waited for it, wanted it
and needed it."
That is how Zipporah Leb-
en, a spokeswoman for the
Jewish Agency, described the
recent waves of emigration
from the former Soviet Union
and Ethiopia to Israel.
Speaking to a group of participants in the Columbus •
Jewish Federation's Israel '92
Mission at Mevasseret Tzion
Absorption Center, one of 62
in Israel, Leben stressed the
significance of the immigration. "The most important
factor at the peace table is the
number of' people who fill
your land," she said.
The immigrants, approximately 400,000 since late
1988, have significantly added
to Israel's previous population
total of 4 million. Currently,
Leben said, 1 million of those
still living in the former Soviet
Union have received invitations to come to Israel; of
these, 35.000'^have visas.
In addition to their numbers, the new immigrants also
bring their cultures, their educations and their talents to
their new country. According
to Yuli Edelstein, a former ref-
u$enik, "This contribution
can lead to a different country,
a different society here."
Edelstein, who addressed mission members on Sept, 14, also
spoke of the excitement generated by the aliyah. "In 1990,
the thing to do was have a
family of new olim to Passover seder," he said, adding
that the aliyah has also led to a
new, healthy introspection
about the reasons for making
one's home in Israel.
free for up to six months or
can accept a lump sum payment
of $4,000 and integrate immediately into Israeli society.
In the Absorption Centers,
in addition to shelter and
food, immigrants receive intensive Hebrew language lessons, job counseling, day care
We need them; they need us!
"People are asking themselves, 'What am I doing
here?'," he said.
. Israeli Foreign Minister Shi;-
mon Peres,' in a breakfast address to the gathering on Sept.
IS, referred to the ingathering
of exiles to the homeland as
one of the greatest challenges
of Jewish life. "We need them;
they need us," he said simply.
Unfortunately, he noted,
immigration had fallen recently because of anxiety about the
availability of employment in
Israel. He emphasized the
present government's changing priorities from the territories to the creation of new
jobs. "I don't think we were
very bright doing the job," he
said, referring to putting the
immigrants to work. "We
have to improve it, correct it,"
Leben explained that of the
Jewish Agency's total budget
of $654 million, $375 million
is now earmarked for absorption. Immigrants can elect to
live in an absorption center
and preschool for their children and information about
Israel and Judaism.
Among those living at Mevasseret were olim from the former USSR, Ethiopia, America, South Africa, France and
Sam Horowitz, director of the
Federatioii's Community Relations Council, said that immigration is increasing once again.
"Economic, social and political
conditions in the Asian Republics will push many Jews who
have the possibility of leaving to
do so," he pointed out.
And while there is some dissent about the impact of the
mass immigration on Israeli
society, the majority of Israelis seem to echo Leben's sentiment, "We are our brother's
keeper" and welcome the challenge and the opportunity.
Judith Franklin, OJC managing editor, was a member of
the Israel '92 Mission.
Pictured is some of the housing provided free to new Immigrants at Mevaserret Tzion Absorption Center, one of 62 in
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