HIAS issues a resolution calling on the U.S. government to reform immigration by giving undocumented workers the opportunity to earn legal status, creating temporary worker programs that protect immigrants’ labor rights, expanding existing preference systems for reunifying immigrant family members, and screening and deporting immigrants who pose a threat to national security.

HIAS helps nine of the 34 remaining Jews in Iraq to emigrate to Israel.


In March 2003, a new synagogue is dedicated in Baku, Azerbaijan, the first to be built in nearly a century.

The second congress of Jewish editors and journalists of the former Soviet Union takes place in Moscow with 46 journalists from 27 cities attending. It is estimated that 500 Jewish periodicals are being published in the region.

In Georgia, President Eduard Shevardnadze is displaced by the “Rose Revolution,” a series of nonviolent demonstrations protesting rigged parliamentary elections.


The U.S.-led coalition invades Iraq and deposes long-time dictator Saddam Hussein.


  • Jewish emigrants from the FSU: 31,891
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 1,576
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 12,726

Looking Back

Fifty-two boys take part in a mass bar mitzvah in Moscow on January 12, the 52nd anniversary of the day that Rabbi Menachem Schneerson assumed leadership of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

Authorities close down the International Institute of Humanities, a division of the Belarussian State University in Minsk, following a remark by a metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church that there are “too many Jews” at the institute. There are other notable anti-Semitic incidents in Belarus throughout the year, such as the cancellation of the lease of a Hebrew school in Minsk and the excavation of a 300-year-old Jewish cemetery in Grodno to expand a soccer stadium.