According to end-of-year figures released on Wednesday, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, aliyah or immigration to Israel hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants.
‘’This marks a significant 32% increase over last year's number of approximately 20,000 immigrants,’’ the Jewish Agency noted.
For the first time ever, France tops the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came in 2013.
This development has spurred The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to encourage aliyah from France and facilitate French immigrants' absorption into Israeli society, as well as to expose young French Jews to life in Israel via Israel experience programs run by The Jewish Agency.
In addition to immigration from France, some 5,840 new immigrants have come from Ukraine over the course of the year, compared to some 2,020 in 2013.
The 190% increase is due primarily to the ongoing instability in the eastern part of the country.
‘’The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption are meeting the challenge posed by the situation on the ground by expanding operations in Ukraine and offering immigrants special financial assistance,’’ the Agency said.
Commenting on the figures, Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency, said:"This year saw a historic shift: for the first time in Israel's history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress.’’
‘’This trend is evidence of Israel's attractiveness as a place where it's good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel,’’ he added.
Sharansky expressed the hope that the next government ‘’will continue to join The Jewish Agency in maintaining aliyah encouragement and immigrant absorption as top priorities,’’, he stressed, as the Jewish Agency forecasts further increases in immigration from around the world.
Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "This year we mark a ten-year record of aliyah and a 32% increase over last year in the number of Jews who reached the conclusion that they have no other country. I am excited to see the fruits of our many efforts to encourage aliyah, but we have not yet reached our goal. Our ministry continues to work together with all relevant parties to promote the ingathering of the exiles, a vision that has accompanied the people of Israel since the state's establishment.
‘’We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world – and even more,’’ the minister added.
Here are some specific data around the immigration to Israel:
Aliyah from Western Europe is up 88%, with the arrival of some 8,640 immigrants this year compared to some 4,600 last year. The most significant increase was in Aliyah from France, which doubled from some 3,400 immigrants in 2013 to nearly 7,000 this year. Additionally, some 620 immigrants came to Israel from the United Kingdom, compared to 520 last year – a 20% increase. The number of immigrants from Italy doubled to approximately 340. Aliyah from Belgium saw a modest decrease, to some 240 immigrants this year. The number of immigrants from Germany remained stable, at approximately 120.
Aliyah from the former Soviet Union is up 50%, with the arrival of some 11,430 immigrants compared to approximately 7,610 last year. The most notable increase was in Aliyah from Ukraine, which rose by 190% to some 5,840 immigrants this year. 4,830 immigrants came from Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic states, compared to 4,640 last year. Some 300 immigrants came from the Caucasus and some 390 from Central Asia.
Aliyah from Latin America remained stable, with the arrival of some 1,070 immigrants, similar to last year's numbers. Aliyah from Brazil saw a 45% increase, with 300 immigrants compared to 210 in 2013. Approximately 297 immigrants came from Argentina, 76 from Mexico, 70 from Venezuela, 62 from Colombia, 58 from Uruguay, and 52 from Chile.
Aliyah from North America increased modestly, with the arrival of some 3,870 immigrants compared to some 3,600 last year. Approximately 3,470 immigrants came from the United States, compared to some 3,200 in 2013 – an 8% increase. Some 400 immigrants came from Canada, compared to some 384 last year.
Some 232 immigrants came to Israel from Eastern Europe, compared to approximately 270 last year. Approximately 126 immigrants came from Hungary, 32 from Poland, 24 from Romania, and 24 from Bulgaria.
Some 190 immigrants came to Israel from South Africa, roughly the same as last year's numbers. Some 200 immigrants came from Australia and New Zealand, compared to some 260 in 2013.
More than half of the immigrants who came to Israel in 2014 were under the age of 35, including some 5,300 children and some 8,200 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. The eldest immigrant this year was born in 1910 and made Aliyah from France at the age of 104. The youngest came from the United States and was only several weeks old.
Some 2,500 of the immigrants work in engineering and technological fields, and thousands hold degrees in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and exact sciences. More than 1,000 doctors and health professionals made Aliyah, as did some 600 artists and athletes. In November, the Government of Israel approved a series of recommendations aimed at breaking down barriers to employment for immigrants and ease their integration into the workforce.
Tel Aviv led the chart of cities receiving new immigrants, with approximately 3,000 new Tel Avivians. The coastal city of Netanya came second and Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, came in third.
by Maureen Shamee