Approximately 72 percent of people entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return in 2020, and did so from former USSR member states, were descendants of Jews, but not halachically Jewish themselves, according to a report earlier this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The report was submitted to the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, which reviewed the immigration from those countries since the early 1990s, according to Hebrew-language journalist Kobi Nachsoni at Ynet.
Over a 30-year period, the percentage of immigrants who are halachically Jewish has steadily dropped from 93 percent in 1990 to just 28 percent in 2020, according to the report.
In total, 1,124,822 people immigrated to Israel during 30 years of aliya; 64 percent were Jewish (born to a Jewish mother).
The number of non-religious citizens in Israel, including immigrants and ex-patriates from the former Soviet Union, stands at around half a million people. Of those, 402,797 were non-Jewish immigrants, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.
The reports is based on the research Dr. Nathaniel Fisher, an immigration and conversion researcher and head of the public policy department at the Sha’arei Science and Law Academic Center, as well as other data.
Fisher said the main reason for the phenomenon is the decrease in the number of Jews living in the countries of the former USSR.
“The Law of Return is actually a law for immigrating for three and a half generations (and not just three), because Jewish great-grandchildren are also entitled to immigrate with their own parents, so as not to separate families,” he said.
“When a family of third-generation non-Jews immigrates to Israel, in fact the great-grandchildren also immigrate with them, and we are talking about hundreds of thousands of children.”
Fisher called the data a “disturbing reality” in which the Law of Return has stopped fulfilling its historical role of bringing Jews to Israel. He also said he believes that ways to change the situation should be explored, including amending the law.