ASHDOD, ISRAEL (CNN) -- Each year, more and more Russians are moving to Israel. In fact, Israel now has the third-largest community of Russian speakers outside Russia. These immigrants are changing their new homeland.
When ballerina Larisa Chernitsy emigrated from Russia to Israel she wasn't sure she'd ever get the chance to dance professionally again. She says, ""When I came to Israel I had to work in a factory and did not dance."
Until she met world famous dancer Valery Panov. In 1974 he left what was then the Soviet Union to come to Israel after imprisonment, harassment by the KGB and threat of death.
The result is a life filled with the work they both love in a country they now call home. He says, "We started this company with zero money government did not give any penny but I did for Israeli a lot."
They are two examples of the huge influx of Russian speaking immigrants who are changing the fabric of their adopted country.
In the Southern Israeli city of Ashdod you can see the influence of the Russian speaking population reflected on the signs on the shops. With 15 percent or more of the total Israeli population it is no wonder this community has such a strong influence on politics.
For years Israel's Soviet-born former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman has been the favorite of the Russian speaking community. This year his party has a challenger. The party is called "The Israelis" but its entire campaign is in Russian. Marina Sol Shorer with the party says, "We want to become real Israelis but as simple as it sounds it will take us a lot of work to do. In 4 areas. Areas of living, areas of pensions, areas of glass ceiling and areas of civil marriage."
The head of the party is David Kon, a former news anchor for Israel's Russian channel. He says, "All the Russian parties began like us. But after a couple of years they say they are not a party of this sector but big politicians on the national level and unable to deal with the small problems. Small problems are a matter of life and death.
Nelly Steinfeld can attest to that. She says, "The walls of my apartment are like the wailing wall of the temple where people can cry."
She lives in a part of town where immigrants struggle every day to earn enough for the basic necessities of life.
But with a growing sense of belonging and a dizzying dose of ambition, the world's third largest Russian speaking population outside of Russia is a political and cultural force to be reckoned with.