PARIS – Hundreds of French Jews participated in an emotional farewell ceremony in Paris this evening (July 2) ahead of their immigration to Israel in the coming weeks. The event, which was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel's Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, became a moving demonstration of solidarity with Israel. It took place at the historic Synagogue des Tournelles and was attended by the leadership of the French Jewish community, including Joël Mergui, President of the Consistoire central israélite de France (the umbrella organization of French Jewry), and newly-elected Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia, as well as Israeli ambassador to France Yossi Gal.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky and Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver traveled to France specially in order to participate in the event and extend warm wishes to the future immigrants ahead of their Aliyah (immigration to Israel).
The first half of 2014 saw a dramatic increase in Aliyah from France, and The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption estimate that more than 5,000 French Jews will immigrate to Israel by the end of the current year, compared to 3,289 in 2013 and 1,917 in 2012.
Some 2,600 French Jews immigrated to Israel during the first six months of 2014, up from 812 during the equivalent period in 2013.* This dramatic increase is due in part to a special initiative developed by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to strengthen ties between French Jewry and Israel, encourage Aliyah from France, and ease French immigrants' absorption into Israeli society.
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "This week, eighteen days of intense searches, during which the people of Israel awaited the boys' return to their families, came to a sad ending. You are all about to immigrate to Israel, a state established for Jews and a state for which we have fought and continue to fight, but the only state in the world in which you will feel at home. I know that this is not an easy moment for you, but we are working night and day to make the decision to take this significant step, Aliyah, a simpler one and a more pleasant experience. We want you at home."
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: "As we saw again this week, whether Jews are murdered in Toulouse, in Brussels, or in Israel, it is the same struggle, the same hatred, the same pain, and the same mourning. The difference is that in Israel we have an army and a government that work day and night to defeat terror and ensure that we can live in our land. Tens of thousands of young people came to the three boys' funeral yesterday, and each and every one of them bore a part of the pain. That's how it is with family – when there is pain, each and every individual bears a part of it, and when there is joy, it is multiplied. When you make Aliyah and build your lives in Israel, you are multiplying our joy. Israel has become a preferred destination for young French Jews. This is a tribute to the efforts of your families, your community, and The Jewish Agency to strengthen young French Jews' connections to their Jewish identities and to Israel. Within a single year, and for the first time in history, a Jewish community in the West is sending a full percent of its Jews to build their lives in the State of Israel. We await you in Israel with open arms."
*2014 figures are not final.