Israel’s Russian Wave, Thirty Years Later

Three decades ago, a million emigres from Eastern Europe arrived in Israel, increasing its population by 20 percent almost overnight and changing its culture forever. What’s their story?

Russian immigrants in the Israeli city of Sderot on December 17, 2008. Anna Kaplan/Flash90.

Russian immigrants in the Israeli city of Sderot on December 17, 2008. Anna Kaplan/Flash90.

Essay
Nov. 2 2020
About the author

Matti Friedman is the author of a memoir about the Israeli war in Lebanon, Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War (2016). His latest book is Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel (2019).

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More about: Aliyah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli culture, Mizrahi Jewry, Russia, Russian Jewry