Soviet Jews: The City's
Newest Immigrants Transform
New York Jewish Life
Soviet Jewish émigrés began to arrive in the United States during the early 1970s. From that time to the present, more than half of each year's new arrivals have chosen to stay in the New York metropolitan area. The social and cultural roots put down by the city's Soviet émigré population—which in the late 1990s numbered close to 300,000— are deep and permanent. Energetic entrepreneurial immigrants have transformed street life in much of Brooklyn and Queens, while young computer wizards and commercial artists have left a lasting imprint on the city's financial and design worlds. Soviet émigré painters, sculptors, playwrights, and dancers have made New York one of the world's most important centers of Soviet Jewish culture. At the same time, the immigration has both revitalized and transformed the flavor of New York Jewish life.
Most Soviet émigrés to New York have gotten their first taste of America in communities that were ethnic enclaves long before they arrived. From 1976 on, the vast majority have settled—at least for a while—in crowded Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods among tens of thousands of elderly