700 Immigrants from Brazil Set to Arrive in Israel in 2016, Three Times the Annual Average
Sharansky, visiting Brazil: “The Brazilian Jewish community is a warm, Zionist community with strong ties to Israel.”
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency for Israel, some 700 immigrants from Brazil will arrive in Israel by the end of 2016, more than three times the annual average of approximately 200. This marks a 45-year record in Brazilian Aliyah, which last reached similar levels in the 1970’s.
“The Brazilian Jewish community is a warm, Zionist community with strong ties to Israel,” said Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, who is currently visiting Brazil in order to survey Jewish Agency activities in the country and meet with the local Jewish community. “Since Israel’s establishment, more than 15,000 Brazilian Jews have immigrated to Israel, contributing to the Jewish state’s national character and strength.” Sharansky noted that recent years have seen an increase in the number of Jewish young people from Brazil who have arrived in Israel to participate in Jewish Agency Israel experience programs through Masa Israel Journey. The Jewish Agency chairman participated in a festive event organized by Confederação Israelita do Brasil (CONIB, the umbrella organization of Brazilian Jewry) last night (Saturday, November 19) in São Paulo. During the course of his visit, he will also meet with Brazilian Jews who are about to immigrate to Israel, as well as with member of Jewish youth movements.
The head of the Jewish Agency delegation in Brazil, Revital Poleg, notes that Aliyah from the country has been steadily increasing over the past three years, along with interest in life in Israel. The increase in Aliyah is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis in that country, but is rooted in the Brazilian Jewish community’s strong ties to Israel. “Many of the immigrants note that they view Israel as a place where they can lead Jewish lives in an environment that feels like home,” says Poleg, noting that the immigrants come from relatively strong backgrounds. “Some seventy percent of the immigrants are young families who want to provide their children with high-quality education, or young people looking to start university studies in Israel and build their careers there.”
Jewish Agency data shows that some 650 immigrants from Brazil have arrived in Israel since the beginning of 2016 and the total number is expected to reach 700 by year’s end. This marks a significant increase compared to the 496 Brazilian immigrants who arrived in 2015 and the 280 who arrived in 2014. The annual average was approximately 200 until three years ago. Similar Aliyah figures from Brazil were last seen in 1971, when some 594 Brazilian immigrants arrived in Israel.
According to CONIB, the Jewish community of Brazil numbers approximately 120,000 and is the second largest in Latin America, after Argentina. The largest communities are located in São Paulo (55,000 members), Rio de Janeiro (30,000), and Porto Alegre (10,000). Approximately one hundred smaller communities are scattered throughout the country, the fifth-largest in the world. The Jewish Agency’s activities in Brazil take place in partnership with CONIB and centers on strengthening Brazilian Jews’ connections to Israel, developing young leadership, training counselors for Jewish youth movements, building Israel experience programs for the community’s youth, preparing candidates for Aliyah, and developing specialized Aliyah tracks for different groups.
PHOTO: Immigrants from Brazil arrive aboard an Aliyah flight arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel. Photo credit: André Jerusalmy.