Thousands of Jews in France attended a special Aliyah fair that took place in the heart of Paris Sunday. The fair was sponsored by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry and the World Zionist Organization.
Dozens of representatives of Israeli housing projects, businesses and corporations, government agencies, and schools were on hand to answer questions about immigration to Israel, and to discuss programs, benefits, and options for immigrants.
Since January, the Jewish Agency said, 854 immigrants from France arrived in Israel, compared with just 274 in the same period in 2013. The Jewish Agency attributed the dramatic 312% rise in immigrants to the work it has been doing in the country, educating French Jews on the options available. Officials said that their efforts were aided by a deterioration of the French economy, and especially by a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in the country, in which many Jews have been harassed and attacked by local thugs and gangs in recent months.
In addition to families and individuals coming to live in Israel, there has also been a large increase in the number of students coming to attend educational programs in Israel. Some 1,000 Jewish high school students recently participated in The Jewish Agency's Bac Bleu Blanc ("High School Seniors in Blue and White") program, which enables students at Jewish schools to explore opportunities for life in Israel following their graduation from high school.
Additionally, 1,000 French Jewish young people are currently participating in Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency that enables young Jews to experience life in Israel, compared to 500 just two years ago. Some 70% of French Masa participants make Aliyah upon completing the program.
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency unveiled a new government plan to encourage Aliyah from France. The plan includes boosting the number of Jewish Agency emissaries in France, increasing marketing efforts, developing new immigrant absorption programs, and establishing a special committee headed by the Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office to remove obstacles to French Aliyah. The plan also sets clear benchmarks for increasing the number of olim, seeking to double their numbers in the coming years.