The Jewish year 5775 was a great year for Aliyah, during which some 30,000 Jews moved to Israel to call it their new home.
The year 5775 on the Hebrew calendar, which comes to a conclusion this Sunday evening, saw a large jump in Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel).
According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption (MAIA), published on Wednesday, some 29,500 immigrants arrived in Israel in 5775, representing a 13% increase over the 26,000 who came in 5774.
Jews came from 97 countries across the globe. Most of this year’s immigrants hail from the Former Soviet Union (14,100 compared to 10,800 last year) and from other parts of Europe (more than 9,000 compared to 8,400 last year).
Some 3,600 immigrants came to Israel from North America, similar to last year’s number, and 1,200 came from South America, marking a small increase.
The two largest sources of Aliyah were from France and the Ukraine. Some 7,350 French Jews fled the rabid anti-Semitism and the advent of Islamic terror in the country, compared to 6,700 in 5774 – a 10% increase. Fleeing the civil war and strife in Ukraine, 6,900 immigrants came to Israel, compared to 4,600 last year, consisting of a 50% increase.
The Jewish Agency and MAIA have been running programs in both countries in order to encourage Aliyah and remove barriers to the immigrants’ integration into Israeli society, they explained in a statement on the eve of the Jewish New Year.
Regarding other countries in Europe, 690 immigrants arrived from the United Kingdom, a 13% increase from the 612 who came last year; approximately 400 came from Italy, a 30% increase compared to 300 in 5774, and 290 from Belgium, which is similar to last year’s figure.
One immigrant each came from Andorra, Angola, Namibia, Paraguay, the Philippines and Slovakia.
A ‘True Triumph of Zionism’
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, noted that “for the past few years, the majority of immigrants to Israel have been coming from free and democratic Western countries. These immigrants’ free choice to live in Israel and their preference for Israel over other countries is the true triumph of Zionism.”
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin said: “These figures, which show a significant increase in the number of immigrants to Israel, reinforce the overall picture that the year 2015 will represent a year of record Aliyah for more than a decade. We estimate that at this rate, by the end of the civil year, we will reach between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants. This is a window of opportunity that the State of Israel cannot miss. Therefore, we at the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the government, and Israeli society in general are faced with a fascinating and compelling challenge to both ensure that immigrants who arrive in Israel are well integrated and do whatever we can to increase activities to encourage Aliyah.”
Thousands of the new immigrants to Israel are young college graduates who came via specially created programs run by the Jewish Agency and MAIA. Some 3,000 of the new immigrants work in engineering and technology, and more than 1,000 are doctors and other medical professionals. Some 70 percent of the new arrivals are under the age of 44, including some 7,800 who are 19 or younger and some 12,000 between the ages of 20 and 44.
As in previous years, the bulk of immigrants came during the summer, which saw the arrival of some 8,350 immigrants compared to the 7,160 who came last year – a 17% increase.
The three most popular destinations in Israel were Tel Aviv-Yafo (3,500 new immigrants); the coastal city of Netanya (3,400) and Jerusalem, which welcomed some 3,000 new immigrants in 5775.