Aliyah Levels Up: 19,200 New Immigrants in 2013
Aliyah (immigration to Israel) is on the rise, the Jewish Agency revealed Sunday - by as much as 7% worldwide.
19,200 people arrived in Israel to become citizens in 2013, a 7% increase since 2012.
2013 saw an overall increase of 35% in Aliyah from western Europe, with the arrival of 4,390 immigrants this year as opposed to 3,258 in 2012.
By country, French Aliyah saw the highest increase - up 63% since last year. The news follows announcements Friday that the government is seeking to implement a three-year program specifically targeted to encourage French Jews to move to Israel. Rising anti-Semitism coupled with a weak economy are thought to be the major factors behind the spike in aliyah.
Belgium and the Netherlands also saw dramatic increases, at 46% and 57%, respectively.
Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) saw a 46% increase in Aliyah; South Africa, 19%; the Middle East, 4%; and Latin America, 34%.
On the other side of the world, immigration from North America saw an 11% decrease in 2013, the largest decrease by continent overall. Eastern European Aliyah decreased 4%; immigration from Russia - while by far the largest group immigrating to Israel - also saw a 1% decrease this year.
In addition, Ethiopian Aliyah saw a dramatic 44% decrease in 2013, due to the cessation of Operation Dove's Wings.
Demographically, the 2013 Aliyah saw a huge upswing in youth immigration. 60% of immigrants to Israel in 2013 were under the age of 35, including 37% between the ages of 18 and 34.
Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver welcomed the news, declaring that "More and more Jews around the world realize that Israel is their home."
"Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy and I hope Aliyah continues to increase. The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption will continue to make every effort to achieve this important goal and make the decision to come to Israel easier."
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said, "Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish people. That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel's centrality to Jewish life and to Jews around the world."
"This is an era of Aliyah by choice, rather than Aliyah of rescue," Sharansky noted.