December 29, 2009
By Haaretz Service and Raphael Ahren
A group of American bachelors is arriving in Israel on Wednesday along with other Jewish immigrants on the final flight for the year 2009 organized by the Nefesh B'Nefesh association and the Jewish Agency.
Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization which helps bring Jews to Israel, joined the online dating service JDate in a joint venture to introduce single Jews to each other.
Head of the Jewish Agency Nathan Sharansky and Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom will greet the new immigrants at Ben Gurion airport.
Earlier this week Sharansky announced that the number of immigrants to Israel has risen this year, for the first time this decade.
In 2009, 16,244 people immigrated - a 17 percent jump over last year's 13,859.
The number of immigrants from English-speaking countries has also increased by 17 percent this year, from 4,511 to 5,294, said Eli Cohen, the director-general of the agency's aliyah department.
"After 10 years during which we saw less and less immigrants, now we see an increase," said Sharansky yesterday at a press conference at the Jewish Agency's Jerusalem headquarters. "This year there were more immigrants from the former Soviet Union, more immigrants from the United States, from Britain and from South Africa - there's an increase from almost everywhere."
The largest number of new immigrants still comes from the former Soviet Union, where the numbers increased by 21 percent from 5,867 to 7,120.