Russians in Israel

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Russians in Israel
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba and many other places
Russian, Hebrew
Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Judaism, Secular Judaism, Non-religious

The Russians in Israel are ethnic Russian citizens who are immigrants to Israel from ethnic Russian communities of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states, and their descendants. They are mostly members of mixed families, more specifically, Halachically non-Jewish members of Jewish households living in Israel.[2] A few are descended from Russian Subbotnik families, who have migrated to Israel over the past century. People of full or partial ethnic Russian ancestry number around 300,000 of the Israeli population from the immigrants from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states,[1][2] and the number of Russian passport holders living in Israel is in the hundreds of thousands.[3]

Most ethnic Russian people in Israel have full Israeli citizenship and are involved in the country's economy on all levels.



Russian Subbotnik families settled in Ottoman Syria in the 1880s as part of the First Aliyah in order to escape oppression in the Russian Empire and later mostly intermarried with local Jews. Their descendants included Israeli Jews such as Alexander Zaïd, Rafael Eitan, Ariel Sharon and Major-General Alik Ron.[4][5]

In 2004, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar ruled the Subbotniks were not defined as Jewish and would have to undergo an Orthodox conversion. The Interior Ministry classified the Subbotniks as a Christian sect and ineligible for aliyah to Israel, because no one knew if their ancestors had formally converted to Judaism (and there is much historic evidence that they did not).[6] However, this ruling was abolished in 2014, with Subbotniks allowed to retain their Jewish status in Israel, with an attempt by the Interior Ministry to allow remaining Subbotnik families to immigrate to Israel.[7]


The Russian people within Israel have citizen status and are involved in the country's economy and society on all levels. Among the notable members of the community are social media star Anna Zak; actress Anastassia Michaeli (converted to Orthodox Judaism), who served as a Parliament member between 2009 and 2013; Footballer Alexander Uvarov who was naturalized in 2004; famous actress Nastya Tsvetaeva; Actor Kirill Safonov; poet and composer Yuliy Kim, and many others.


Their religious affiliation is largely atheist or Non-religious, though about 40,000 follow the Russian Orthodox Church according to a recent census and it is estimated about 10,000 are embracing Messianic Judaism.[citation needed] A notable number of the community have also underwent conversion to Orthodox Judaism due to affiliation to the Jewish community through their ancestry or because of marriage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Monthly Bulletin of Statistics". Retrieved 2011-03-22.
  2. ^ a b "Israel's neo-Nazi gang: A symptom of a deeper malaise". 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
  3. ^ Russian-Israelis vote for next Kremlin leader by Polina Perlman, Published: 03.04.12, ynetnews
  4. ^ Dr. Ruchama Weiss Rabbi Levi Brackman, "Russia's Subbotnik Jews get rabbi", Ynet, 9 December 2010, accessed 22 August 2015
  5. ^ Itamar Eichner (March 11, 2014). "Subbotnik Jews to resume aliyah". Israel Jewish Scene. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  6. ^ Ari Ben Goldberg"'Abandoned' in the Jordan Valley", The Jerusalem Report, 19 November 2001, reprinted at Molokane website
  7. ^ [1] Itamar Eichner Published: 03.11.14