More Than 14,000 Jews From Russia, Belarus Request Aliyah Visas or Information
More than 14,000 Jews from Russia and Belarus are actively applying for or have expressed interest in making aliyah to Israel, as Russia becomes increasingly sanctioned amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
According to Nativ, the Israeli government’s liaison bureau to Jews from the former Soviet Union, these applications and requests have already dwarfed the 7,707 visas issued last year, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
To date, at least 1,400 potential Russian immigrants had their visas approved since the fighting started.
Mark Dagin, a Russian Jew who has not visited Israel for 15 years, is set to leave St. Petersburg, saying, “Unfortunately, right now I see no future for my children in this country.”
Ironically, he said, the sanctions imposed on Russian banks may make it harder for him to make aliyah.
“If I sell my car, my apartment, or my country house, the biggest problem will be to move the money from the Russian Federation,” Dagin said.
Oren Katz, a Tel Aviv real estate agent, says “the process has already begun” for the coming wave of aliyah, with Russian Jews — especially wealthy ones — contacting him in large numbers since the invasion of Ukraine.
Another Russian Jew, identified only as “Mikail,” is an executive at a prosperous business based in Moscow, but acquired Israeli citizenship in 2019 “as a security package for me, for emergency purposes” and “that’s exactly what it is now.” He is currently in Tashkent with his family on the way to Israel.
Russian Jews are not the only ones rushing to make aliyah. The Jewish Agency stated that 2,000 Ukrainian Jews have moved to Israel since the fighting began. There are “thousands” more waiting to do so, and they are currently being housed in temporary lodgings, including 4,130 beds in various hotels and other facilities in countries near the Ukrainian border, rented by the Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
In addition, 6,600 Jews have called the Jewish Agency and IFCJ’s special hotline to inquire about making aliyah “as soon as possible.”
Israel’s interior minister said Tuesday that the government expects about 100,000 new immigrants to arrive in the country as a result of the fighting in Ukraine.