December 28, 2009
by Yechiel Spira
According to figures released by the Jewish Agency for Israel, 16,200 new immigrants arrived in Eretz Yisrael in 2009, representing an increase of 17% from the previous year, in which 13,860 immigrants arrived. This figure does not include aliyah from Ethiopia since the rate of immigration from that country is set by the government, not the agency.
221,000 new immigrants arrived in Eretz Yisrael in the past decade from around the world declared Jewish Agency Director Natan Sharansky at a Sunday press conference.
In 2009, 7,120 immigrants arrived from the FSU and E. Europe, as compared to 5,867 the previous year, representing a 21% increase. From the English speaking countries, including North America, Britain, S. Africa, Ukraine and others, 5,300 immigrants arrived, as compared to 4,511 in 2008, a 17% increase. From European nations, 2,600 arrived as compared to 2,402 in 2008. There were 1,230 immigrants from Latin American countries, as compared to 1,078 in 2008. 60% of the new immigrants are under 35-years-old.
Sharansky spoke of the agency’s Red Carpet program which will encourage aliyah, a project that will include assisting the immigrants following their arrival including a professional escorting them following their arrival to assist in acclimating, as well as using volunteers to work with new immigrants. He spoke of increased and expanded cooperation between the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. Supporting his remarks was Minister of Absorption Sofia Landver, who added we are marking 20 years since the start of immigration from the former USSR. She spoke of the unprecedented influx of Israelis coming home, in part due to the realization of the increased assistance available.
This year, the Jewish Agency boasts the immigration of 47 Jews from Yemen, 25 from Morocco, 13 from Tunisia, and 3 from Lebanon. She added there are even Jews who arrived from countries from which there is a marginal Jewish community. This would include 4 immigrants from Hong Kong, 3 from China, 3 from Japan, and 2 from Honduras. There were also immigrants from Kenya, Taiwan, and Madagascar.
In the final days of 2009, additional olim are expected to arrive, 210 in total, from S. Africa, France and England. There will be an additional 200 from N. America via Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency.
Sharansky expressed his hope that the government will give the green light for 8,700 Ethiopians living in transit camps in Addis Abba and Gondar to come home to Israel. The Interior Ministry has approved the arrival of 250 immigrants from Ethiopia in January 2010.