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Among the Israelis Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim hopes to woo back from North America during his trip there this week are some 120,000 Russians who hold Israeli passports and now live in the United States.
To that end, he has scheduled a meeting in New York with leaders in the Russian Jewish community to try to urge their compatriots who once lived in Israel to return.
"When I speak about Israelis [returning to Israel], it should include all Israelis, even those who spent less time in Israel or were not born in Israel or made Israel a transit country," Boim told The Jerusalem Post.
Some one million Russian immigrants came to Israel after the break-up of the Soviet Union, with an estimated 50,000-plus having returned to Russia, and with Boim estimating that another 120,000 now live in the US. He didn't know the number of Americans who made aliya and have since returned to their native country, but said altogether around 700,000 Israelis were estimated to live abroad, mostly in North America.
The 12-day trip, which will include top leaders of the absorption ministry, will be Boim's first effort at appealing directly to Israelis in Canada, according to his office. Boim will be stopping in Toronto as well New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The purpose of the trip is to understand "what kind of steps the government of Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption should take to ease and facilitate this group returning to Israel," Boim said. "It's like a seminar for us, the high-level officials in the ministry, to learn and understand the needs of the people there."