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Prisoners of Zion
'Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself': Financial Assistance for needy former Refusniks from the FSU

Israel’s 1967 victory in the Six-Day War did not only represent a triumph of those within the State, but also a positive change for those living behind the Iron Curtain in the former Soviet Union. That victory strengthened the link of millions of Jews, igniting their determined struggle to allow free emigration and Aliyah to Israel, to provide for safe and free living of Jewish life, and the ability to conduct Jewish cultural activity in the former Soviet Union.

This struggle was partly conducted underground, and Jews were continually persecuted and harassed. Many were sent to prison for their Zionist and nationalist activity and barred form leaving the Soviet Union for many years. This struggle resulted in the Aliyah of Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1970's, the release of Prisoners of Zion, including Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, and eventually the massive Aliyah to Israel of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the 1990's.

The Jewish People’s commitment to those who fought for freedom does not end with their arrival in Israel. It is an ongoing devotion to help those who struggled then and now. They lost everything and rebuilt their lives in Israel. Once their battle was for the right to immigrate to the Jewish State; today hundreds of them combat poverty and a host of personal limitations.

In response to the needs of this vulnerable population, financial assistance is offered to these former refusniks in need. There are currently some hundreds of needy former refusniks living in Israel, who receive average annual stipends of $3,750, based on average market salaries and commensurate with prison terms (6% per year with additional 1% per year of exile). Eligibility is determined based on criteria established by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and is dependent on income and accessible assets. This sum supplements the social benefits they receive from the Government.


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Saturday 19 April, 2014 (c) All rights reserved to the Jewish Agency שבת י"ט ניסן תשע"ד