Monday, February 07, 2005

Dramatic Rise in Aliyah from North America and Western Europe

From Arutz-7:

Immigration to Israel from North America and Western Europe has jumped dramatically over the past year, while it has dropped from the former Soviet bloc.

Statistics released by the Jewish Agency at a press conference Sunday showed that North American aliyah has climbed to its highest level in 20 years. In the past year, 2,640 Jews arrived from North America - an 11% jump from last year’s levels.

Aliyah [immigration to Israel] from Western Europe shot up by 13% in 2004 - including a 16% jump from France, from where 2,415 new immigrants came last year.

Jewish Agency head Salai Meridor said he expects a 30% increase in aliyah from North America over the coming year. He said this is due to what he described as a general improvement in Israel and an intensified effort to promote immigration in Jewish-populated areas.

Another bright spot in 2004 was an upsurge in visits via the Birthright program, which provides free ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews who have never before visited Israel on an organized trip. Birthright reported 34,000 visits in 2004, rising above the level reached prior to the outbreak of the Oslo War in 2000.

Low rates of aliyah were reported for the former Soviet bloc countries, as the massive aliyah of the 90's "used up" most of the potential from these areas. Russian Jewish immigration to Germany was also a factor in this year’s drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc.

Jewish Agency officials, however, expect a resurgence in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc, as Germany has tightened its immigration standards as of the year 2006. Only Jews under the age of 45 who are familiar with the German language will be allowed to immigrate.

The drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc was the main reason for an overall decline in aliyah to Israel in 2004 of 9.5%.

The Jewish Agency is also expecting a rise in aliyah from Ethiopia based on the government’s recent decision to double the rate of Falash Mura immigration from 300 to 600 per month. Meridor said the pool of such immigrants totals between 15,000 to 20,000 people. The Falash Mura are descended from Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity.


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