Ex-Soviets change the face of Israel

Associated Press
In this Jan. 31, 2012 photo, the children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union attend a ballet class in Lod, central Israel. Some prominent ballet dancers left the former Soviet Union for Israel, forming ballet schools and continuing a dance culture highly regarded in their countries of origin. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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Israel has the world's third-largest Russian-speaking community outside the former Soviet Union, after the U.S. and Germany. The Soviet Union crumbled 20 years ago, and in the aftermath, more than 1 million of its citizens took advantage of Jewish roots to flee that vast territory for the sliver of land along the Mediterranean that is the Jewish state. By virtue of their sheer numbers in a country of 8 million people and their tenacity in clinging to elements of their old way of life, these immigrants have transformed Israel.

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