December 29, 2009 / 12 Tevet 5770
In 2009, for the first time in a decade, the number of immigrants to Israel rose from the previous year. Approximately 16,200 immigrants arrived in Israel from around the world over the last year, marking a 17% percent rise from 2008 when 13,860 immigrants make Aliyah, according the Jewish Agency and Israel’s Ministry of Absorption.
These figures do not include Ethiopian immigrants, whose rate of immigration to Israel is calculated by the Israeli government.
The figures were presented in a press conference on December 27, 2009, at the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem decade in the presence of Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.
According to the collected data, 221 thousand immigrants from around the world moved to Israel over the last year.
2009 saw the immigration of 7,120 people from the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, a 21% increase from 2008’s total of 5,867. The number of immigrants from English-speaking countries (including North America, Great Britain, South Africa, Oceania and others) in 2009 numbered approximately 5,300, 17% more than the total of 4,511 in 2008. The number of immigrants from Europe (such as from France, Belgium and other countries) rose from 2,402 to 2,600, and the number of Latin American immigrants increased from 1,078 from 1,230. 60% of new immigrants are young men and women under the age of 35.
The Jewish Agency announced a new model for encouraging Aliyah and assisting new immigrants, “Red Carpet.” The “Red Carpet” model includes pairing new immigrants in their early stages of absorption with a volunteer advisor and guide, as well as offering them – soon after their arrival - an absorption fair featuring companies and organizations that assist in absorption and provide services as citizens of Israel, including health care, banks, and Israel Social Security. The pilot of this model launched earlier this past year and helped in the absorption of over 10% of immigrants from 2009 (approximately 1,800) who arrived on nine Jewish Agency flights from around the world.
In addition to the “Red Carpet” model, the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah Department has developed several new absorption programs in conjunction with the Absorption Ministry and other organizations.
Sharansky expressed his gratification over the rise in immigration, and said that “every immigrant who arrives in Israel strengthens the State of Israel and constitutes a strategic asset that is critical for the State of Israel.” The Chairman publicly acknowledged the outstanding cooperation of the Israeli government, as well as of other agencies, including the Absorption Ministry, Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Ami Organization, Nativ, and more.
“How symbolic that the increase in Aliyah trends took place in the year when we celebrate 20 years of immigration from the Former Soviet Union," said Sofa Landver, Minister of Immigrant Absorption, herself an immigrant from the FSU.
During this past year, the Jewish Agency ran special Aliyah projects that brought 47 immigrants from Yemen, 25 from Morocco, 13 from Tunisia, 3 from Lebanon and 90 from other countries.
Noteworthy immigration includes Aliyah from countries with very small Jewish communities. In 2009, the figures included: 4 from Mauritius, 3 from Japan, 3 from China, 2 from Honduras, and one from each of the following countries – Martinique, Madagascar, Kenya and Taiwan.
Over the next several days – before the end of 2009 – four charter Aliyah flights will be landing in Israel. Approximately 210 immigrants will be arriving in Jewish Agency flights from South Africa, France and England. An additional 200 immigrants will be arriving in a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight in cooperation with the Jewish Agency.
Regarding Ethiopian immigration, Sharansky expressed his hope that the Israeli government will quickly reach the decision to bring to Israel the 8,700 people currently waiting in temporary camps in Addis Ababa and Gundar. A flight is expected to arrive in January carrying 250 Ethiopian immigrants.