The final 140 immigrants of the year 5774 arrived in Israel on Monday from Russia and Ukraine, and were greeted at Ben-Gurion International Airport by Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
Data compiled by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption shows that some 24,800 new immigrants have arrived in Israel in the Jewish year 5774. This represents a significant 28% increase compared to the 19,350 immigrants who arrived in Israel in 5773 and the highest number of the past five years.
Aliyah from France has more than doubled, from 2,650 in 5773 to approximately 6,000 in 5774, marking the first time in history that more immigrants have arrived in Israel from France than any other country. This 125% increase is due, in part, to new programs developed by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to enable young French Jews to experience life in Israel, as well as joint efforts to ease the immigration and absorption process.
Another striking development this year is in the significant increase in aliyah – as Jewish immigration to Israel is called in Hebrew – from the former Soviet Union, due primarily to a twofold increase in immigration from Ukraine. Some 4,200 new immigrants arrived in Israel from across Ukraine thanks to Jewish Agency and Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption efforts, compared to 2,000 in 5773 – a 110% increase. Some 4,500 immigrants arrived from Russia, compared to 3,370 last year – a 22% increase.
The rise of anti-Semitism in France and the political upheavals in Ukraine are doubtless also factors in the increased aliyah this year.
Reunited after a year of conflicts
Among the poignant moments Monday at Ben Gurion Airport was the reunification of 18-year-old Alexandrina Zheludev with her family. Zheludev immigrated to Israel from Ukraine a year ago with The Jewish Agency for Israel's SELA (Students Before Parents) program. On Monday, her family made Aliyah from the city of Lugansk in embattled eastern Ukraine. Her mother, 39-year-old Oksana, and her father, Viatscheslav, who celebrated his 41st birthday today, immigrated with their 16-year-old son Artur.
They had spent the past few weeks in the cellar of their home due to the ongoing fighting and lost contact with their daughter in Israel. She was deeply concerned about them and they were concerned about her as they heard of this summer's hostilities in Israel. They embraced upon seeing one another for the first time in a year at the welcome event organized by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
Sharansky said that "The increase in immigration from the four corners of the globe even in a year in which our enemies tried to undermine our security and challenge Israel's legitimacy demonstrates that Israel is a country that guarantees both the personal safety of its citizens and the future of the Jewish people. Every one of the tens of thousands of immigrants who arrived in Israel this year brings an end to 2,000 years of wandering."
Aliyah up from America and Europe
The year 5774 saw a slight increase in Aliyah from North America with the arrival of some 3,600 new immigrants, compared to 3,450 last year – approximately 3,170 came from the United States and some 400 from Canada.
Aliyah from South America increased 20%, from 930 in 5773 to approximately 1,100 this year. 300 immigrants came from Brazil (a 50% increase from the 200 who came in 5773), and 310 from Argentina (a 24% increase).
Some 570 new immigrants arrived in Israel from the United Kingdom this year and some 260 from Belgium, marking modest increases from the previous year's numbers. Some 270 new immigrants arrived in Israel from Italy – double last year's figures.
Some 230 immigrants came to Israel from Ethiopia in 5774 compared to 2,200 in 5773, which saw the conclusion of Operation Dove's Wings, the historic effort to bring the remainder of those eligible to make Aliyah from Ethiopia to Israel. The rate of Ethiopian Aliyah is determined by the Government of Israel.
About 60% of the immigrants who arrived in Israel in 5774 were under the age of 35, and 37% were between the ages of 18 and 34. Thousands are young professionals, including hundreds of doctors and other medical and paramedical professionals who came to Israel on specialized tracks developed by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Netanya topped the list of cities receiving new immigrants – more than 2,500 new Israelis came home to each of those cities this year.