Aliyah – immigration to Israel – will have increased by 16 percent by the end of 2010, the second straight year of a rise in new immigrants after years of declines, the Jewish Agency announced Tuesday.
However, the Jewish Agency is faced with a challenge to match the figures in future years because this year’s success was largely due to the 1,650 newcomers from Ethiopia, compared with only 140 in 2009. The government recently decided to help the last of the “Falashmura” Ethiopians come to Israel over the next four years..
A significant increase of “olim" – new immigrants – was noted in South America. The former Soviet bloc continued to make up the plurality of new olim. Six percent more North Americans moved to Israel in 2010 compared with the previous year.
The United States provides the largest potential for aliyah, and the Jewish Agency has embarked on a different approach, focusing on education and strengthening Jewish identity as well as strengthening the link with Israel, in the hopes that Americans will "come home."
By the end of 2010, the Agency estimates that 19,130 Jews will have moved to the Jewish state in 2010, compared with 16,465 in 2009 and only 15,452 in 2008. From North America, 3,980 moved to Israel, compared with 3,767 last year, while immigration from Great Britain declined from 853 to 760.
The Jewish Agency was encouraged there that there was an increase in aliyah from the former Soviet Bloc despite its improving economic conditions.
A significant increase of olim, although their numbers ranged only from 48 to 175, was registered in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and India. In Venezuela, where anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has accompanied the country’s alliance with Iran, aliyah jumped this year to 150, compared with only 38 in 2009. Large increases also were noted in Mexico, Peru and Argentina.
Ten Jews moved to Israel from China, three from Japan and three from Hong Kong.
As usual, Jerusalem was the most popular choice of residence for new immigrants, despite the high cost of housing in the capital.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky commented, “I am very pleased to see the statistics pointing to a rise in aliyah from almost everywhere in the world, particularly in light of the campaign of de-legitimizing Israel happening around the world. Many of the new immigrants are young people from free countries who feel that they belong to the State of Israel and chose to build their lives and the lives of their children here."
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said, “Successful aliyah and absorption have always been and always will be the core of the Zionist enterprise and a guarantee of the growth of the Jewish state… We will continue to do all that we can to make sure aliyah continues to rise and the absorption process is as best as it can be.”