From the Archive: April 1991


In 1989, the Soviet Union removed a cap on the number of people allowed to emigrate from its borders. With many musicians among them, hundreds of thousands headed for Israel, as writer Yossi Schiffmann reports

The current myth in Israel goes something like this: out of every three immigrants from Russia the first one is carrying a violin case, the second one carries his cello. ‘And who is the third who carries no case at all?’, asks the customs official. ‘Ah, he is the pianist.’ Well it is a myth but not far from the truth. Even to the professional observer it takes time to grasp the numbers of immigrants arriving in Israel daily. ‘The quantity of immigrants can be compared to the United States of America absorbing the whole population of France in three to four years,’ says Simba Dintz, chairman of the Jewish Agency, the organisation in charge of the huge operation…

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