Yaakov Hagoel with new olim from 26 countries
Yaakov Hagoel with new olim from 26 countriesElad Brami

Aliyah (immigration) to Israel has increased by 31% in 2021 so far, with 20,360 olim (immigrants) arriving compared to 15,598 during the corresponding period last year, according to a report released Sunday by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

The figures come ahead of Yom Ha'aliyah (Aliyah Day), a national holiday on October 13th, which celebrates immigrants to Israel from all over the world.

Israel has continued seeing a dramatic rise in aliyah despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency ensuring that immigration continues despite the difficulty and limitations on international travel.

Pnina Tamano-Shata, Minister of Aliyah and Integration, said: “I am pleased to launch Aliyah Week for 2021, where we salute olim for their contribution to the State of Israel. I worked in the government to ensure aliyah does not stop for a moment - also during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns - because aliyah is the realization of the Zionist dream. I am pleased by the tremendous increase in the number of olim who decided to make aliyah to Israel since the beginning of the year. We at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration will continue to work to assist olim in the aliyah and integration process in Israel.”

To date, more than 3,340,000 immigrants have made aliyah to Israel since the State’s establishment. There are several events throughout this week to celebrate the contributions of olim to the country.

The Jewish Agency for Israel's Acting Chairman of the Executive and Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel remarked, “I’m moved by each and every aliyah flight. Despite the challenging period and many limitations brought on by the global pandemic, since the beginning of the year, there’s been a significant increase in olim in comparison to a similar period last year. Olim from across the globe chose to come and build their future in Israel. These olim are a strategic asset to the State of Israel and contribute to every aspect of life. We all must contribute to their integration. We are strengthened by each oleh who comes to Israel.”

According to the data, the largest number of olim this year has been from Russia, with 5,075 immigrants arriving (which marks a 5% decrease from last year). Of those, 3,104 made aliyah from the USA (with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh), which is up 41% from the first nine months of 2020. Meanwhile, 2,819 olim have come from France (a 55% increase), 2,123 from Ukraine (4% increase), 780 from Belarus (69% increase), 633 from Argentina (46% increase), 490 from the United Kingdom (20% increase), 438 from Brazil (4% increase) and 373 from South Africa (56% increase).

Finally, 1,589 have come from Ethiopia, compared with 285 immigrants the previous year, thanks to Operation Tzur Israel, led by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency, which helped olim reunite with their families after decades of being apart.

More than half of the new immigrants to Israel so far this year are under age 35, with about 23.4% ages 0-17, 33.4% between 18-35, 16.3% ages 36-50, 13% 51-64 and 13.9% over 65.

As for employment, 17.3% of olim work in the service and commerce industries, 6.1% in the humanities and social sciences, 5.2% in technology and engineering, 4.2% in medicine, 3.6% in accounting and legal services and 2.7% in education.

Jerusalem is now home to 2,184 of this year’s new olim, with 2,122 moving to Tel Aviv, 2,031 to Netanya, 1,410 to Haifa and 744 to Ashdod. Meanwhile, Ra’anana, Beit Shemesh, Nahariya, Be'er Sheva, and Bat Yam have all absorbed more than 600-700 immigrants this year.

The Yom Ha'aliyah Act, which was established by the Knesset in 2016, is celebrated on the seventh day of the Jewish month of Cheshvan and coincides with the Torah portion of Lech Lecha, in which God commands Abraham to go to the Land of Israel. The aim of the holiday is to celebrate the development of Israel as a multicultural society and emphasize the importance of aliyah to Israel.