As 2015 Draws to a Close, Israel Celebrates Record-Breaking Aliyah Numbers

“ ‘Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the Lowland, and in the South, and by the sea-shore; the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.’ ” Deuteronomy 1:6-7 (The Israel Bible™)

Immigration to Israel hit a 12-year high in 2015, with over 30,000 new immigrants coming from around the world to settle in the Jewish state.

This year’s numbers represent an overall 10% increase over 2014’s numbers. A record-breaking number of immigrants (olim in Hebrew) made aliyah from France, which took first place as the country with the most number of olim for the second year in a row.

7,900 French immigrants made aliyah in 2015, compared to 7,200 last year. The number is an all-time high for French aliyah. In light of France’s quickly deteriorating tolerance for Jews and the rise of violent anti-Semitic acts there, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption had focused its efforts this year to promote aliyah in France.

The number of olim from Ukraine rose 16% this year, from 6,000 in 2014 to 7,000 in 2015. Israel had also worked in Ukraine, which is politically and economically unstable, to increase aliyah.

Immigration from Russia saw an enormous jump of 40% from 2014, with 6,600 Russian olim arriving in Israel. Israel recently celebrated 25 years of aliyah from the former Soviet Union, a move that has led to a huge shift in Israeli society and culture and sparked countless contributions to Israel in many different fields.

There has been an overall increase of 25% in aliyah from Eastern Europe, with the total number of immigrants from the region numbering over 15,000. Immigration from western Europe enjoyed a 6% increase.

As for Northern America, approximately 3,700 new olim made aliyah from the United States and Canada.

Israel’s new olim are younger than ever, with 50% of immigrants under the age of 30, though ages ranged from a month and a half at the youngest new Israeli to 97 at the oldest.

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Once in Israel, immigrants spread throughout the country. Tel Aviv received the highest number, with the arrival of 3,650 new residents. Netanya, a coastal city north of Tel Aviv, received 3,500, and Jerusalem came in third with 3,030 new Israelis.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency and himself an immigrant from the former USSR, said in a statement, “The high number of immigrants, particularly from western countries, attests to the drawing power of the Zionist idea. The fact that immigrants choose to come to Israel is a sign that Israel invests their lives with meaning that they cannot find elsewhere.”

He added that the job of the Jewish Agency is to ensure that new immigrants settle in and adjust quickly to their new lives, saying, “We make every effort to enable them to become immediately integrated in the workforce and in the education system, so that they, like those who came before them, may put down roots in Israel and enrich Israeli society.”

According to Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin, the high immigration numbers of 2015 only mean that the coming years will bring even more olim. “The number of immigrants rose by 50% in the past two years, and we haven’t heard the last word,” he said.

Elkin expressed hopes that if aliyah efforts on the part of Israel continue to improve and succeed, “A figure of 50,000 immigrants in one year does not seem imaginary.”

He concluded by echoing the words of historical figure Theodore Herzl, considered by many to be the father of modern Zionism: “If we will it, it is no dream.”