Thousands of the Soviet Jews who fled to Israel when the Soviet Union collapsed are beginning to return to Russia.

Slowly but surely, the synagogues of Moscow are filling up again. In the late 1980s and early 1990s close to one million Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel. The Soviet Union was collapsing, Russia was in economic and social chaos and anti-Semitism was rampant.

“When they left they were cursing this country saying, ‘My feet will never set foot on this soil again,’ such hatred and unhappiness. But we must admit things have changed,” said Berl Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi.

The Russian economy that was on the verge of collapse is now booming, while the Israeli economy is sinking under the weight of the intefadeh.

Israelis live in a state of siege. And in spite of bloody exceptions, such as the recent Moscow subway bombing, Russians feel their security problems are confined to faraway Chechnya. Moreover, says Rabbi Lazar, anti-Semitism in Russia is declining…


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