Ex-Soviets change the face of Israel

Associated Press
In this Dec. 4, 2012 photo, two immigrants from the Ural region of the former Soviet Union rinse off after bathing in the Mediterranean Sea in the early morning, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Many Soviet immigrants gather at the beach for a traditional winter dip, the closest substitute to the freezing waters of the former Soviet Union. (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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