Dagestan Jews fleeing hostilities arrive in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (September 14) - Fleeing widening hostilities between Russian troops and Chechen invaders, which in some places have reached communities where Jews live, some 80 Jews from Dagestan arrived here yesterday on a special Jewish Agency flight.

According to Karl Ungar, who directs the agency's activities in Eastern Europe, most of the roughly 11,000 Jews in Dagestan live in Makhachkala or Derbent, which are sufficiently far away from the fighting to not have any problems directly caused by the fighting.

However, Ungar said that other areas closer to the border, where roughly 100-150 Jews live, "are currently caught up in the fighting. While there isn't a mass exodus yet, I would say that there is increased interest [among Jews] in leaving the area."

Most the new arrivals had planned to come for some time, agency officials said, "but the events that have transpired there lately have definitely led them to move up their date for leaving." Agency officials said that a group of about another 100 Jews from Dagestan are expected to arrive at the end of the month. A total of about 560 have arrived so far this year.

"Many of those who we have spoken to have expressed concern about their children's future," said an agency spokesman, who noted that many of the families have either already sent children here to study or have families already living here.

Some 2,000 Jews are participating in Jewish activities offered by the agency in Makhachkala, while some 300 at studying Hebrew in agency ulpanim, a spokesman said.

©Jerusalem Post 1999

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