They make up about 10% of the American Jewish community, but no one is entirely sure how many Russian-speaking Jews there are in the United States.
At a recent conference at Harvard University, the answer fluctuated from as high as 750,000 people to fewer than 500,000, depending on which expert took the podium.
Sam Kliger of the American Jewish Committee gave the high estimate of 750,000, a figure that was subsequently endorsed by Leonard Saxe, Brandeis University’s Klutznick professor of contemporary Jewish studies.
“By any account, the number of Russian-speaking Jews in the United States now probably exceeds those of Russia and Ukraine combined,” said Kliger, a sociologist who is director of Russian community affairs at AJC. “New York today is populated by more Russian Jews than any other place in the world.”
Kliger asserted that previous studies significantly underestimated America’s Russian-speaking Jewish population.
But Mark Tolts, a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called such estimates “wishful thinking” and said there are fewer than 500,000 Russian-speaking Jews in America. Ira Sheskin, director of the Jewish Demography Project at the University of Miami’s Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies, backed up that claim.
SOURCE: U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE AND U.S. DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY, FROM A PAPER PRESENTED BY BARRY CHISWICK, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY AND HIAS.Migration: Since 1970, about 700,000 people immigrated to the U.S. from the FSU. Only about 410,000 were resettled by HIAS. [Read the rest]