Dozens of French Jewish olim (new immigrants) landed in Israel on Tuesday evening, and lit Hanukkah candles as Israelis for the first time during a festive welcome ceremony hosted by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
The immigrants, who ranged in age from toddlers to senior citizens, were greeted by Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky.
The hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) was lit by Dan Shalom Ammar, his wife Audrey, and their children Lily, Natan, and Tali, who came from Paris and will be living in the central Israeli city of Modi’in. All in attendance joined in singing the traditional candle-lighting songs before concluding with Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah.
“You have come from the City of Lights on the Festival of Lights,” Sharansky told the new olim. “We at The Jewish Agency have accompanied you throughout your Aliyah process and we will continue to accompany you for the remainder of your journey, as you become fully integrated into Israeli society. Welcome home.”
More than 7,000 French Jews have made Aliyah so far in 2015, a 10% increase compared to the equivalent period last year.
The Jewish Agency noted in a statement that 2014 broke all previous records for French Aliyah with the arrival of some 7,200 new immigrants over the course of the year.
The significant expansion of The Jewish Agency’s activities in France in response to rising interest in Aliyah has been made possible by contributions from The Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod-UIA, as well as by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and other Jewish and Christian partners.