Five hundred Jews from the U.S., Russia, England and South Africa will make their new home in Israel between now and the end of this year.
The parade of new immigrants will begin with a planeload of 100 from the former Soviet Union Tuesday afternoon. After arriving in Ben Gurion International Airport, they will participate in a special Chanukah candle lighting ceremony in their honor.
Five more aliyah (immigration to Israel) flights will arrive on the last three days of the year. On Dec. 29, two flights will arrive from New York and one from London, all with new olim aboard. Two days later, a large group of 190 new immigrants will arrive from New York, and later that night, in the waning hours of 2008, a planeload of 100 new Israelis will arrive from South Africa. The Aliyah flights from the U.S. and Britain are in cooperation with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
The flight from South Africa is notable, says Jewish Agency spokesman Michael Jankelowitz, because of the large increase in Aliyah from that country. The number of South African olim will have approximately doubled this year; 178 arrived in 2007, and over 350 this year.
Though Aliyah in general dropped from just over 18,100 in 2007 (over 19,000 in 2006) to some 16,500 this year, Jankelowitz emphasizes that this is mainly because of the dwindling number of Jews who comprise the Aliyah pool in the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. Ethiopia, “where Aliyah is essentially ended,” Jankelowitz says, saw 1,700 come this year, as opposed to 3,600 the year before. From the former Soviet Union, 6,100 will have come this year, as opposed to 6,500 in 2007.
In general, Jankelowitz says that most Aliyah at present is what is called “Aliyah of choice – no one is running away from anything, but rather choosing to come to Israel for positive reasons.” In this connection, he notes that Australian Aliyah is up by about a third, from 122 in 2007, to 165 this year. In addition, 90 new Israelis came from Mexico, up from 66.
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