Aliyah

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For the singer, see Aaliyah. For other uses, see Aliyah (disambiguation).

Aliyah (UK /ˌælɪˈɑː/, US /ˌɑːliˈɑː/; Hebrew: עֲלִיָּה aliyah, "ascent") is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). Also defined as "the act of going up" or as in progressing towards Jerusalem. It is one of the most basic tenets of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida ("descent").[1] The concept of Aliyah (return) to the Holy Land was first developed in Jewish history during the Babylonian exile. During the Jewish diaspora, Aliyah was developed as a national aspiration for the Jewish people, although it was not usually fulfilled until the development of the Zionist movement in the late nineteenth century. Large-scale immigration to Palestine began in 1882.[2] Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, more than 3 million Jews from over 90 countries have 'made Aliyah' and arrived in Israel.[3]

Throughout much of Jewish history, most Jews have lived in the Diaspora. Today, the world's Jewish population is mostly concentrated in two countries: the United States and Israel.[citation needed]

Historical overview[edit]

Successive waves of Jewish settlement are an important aspect of the history of Jewish life in Palestine. Eretz Yisrael ("Land of Israel") is the Hebrew name for the region known in English as Palestine. This traditional Hebrew toponym, in turn, has lent its name to the modern State of Israel.

Pre-Zionist Aliyah refers to small-scale return migration of Diaspora Jews to Palestine. Since the birth of Zionism, its advocates have striven to facilitate the settlement of Jewish refugees in Ottoman Palestine, Mandatory Palestine, and the sovereign State of Israel. The following waves have been identified:

Today, most aliyah consists of voluntary migration for ideological, economic, or family-reunification purposes.

Etymology[edit]

Aliyah in Hebrew means "ascent" or "going up". Jewish tradition views traveling to the land of Israel as an ascent, both geographically and metaphysically. Anyone traveling to Eretz Israel from Egypt, Babylonia or the Mediterranean basin, where many Jews lived in early rabbinic times, climbed to a higher altitude. Visiting Jerusalem, situated 2,700 feet above sea level, also involved an "ascent".[4]

Religious, ideological and cultural concept[edit]

"Olim" redirects here. For other uses, see Olim (disambiguation).

Aliyah is an important Jewish cultural concept and a fundamental component of Zionism. It is enshrined in Israel's Law of Return, which accords any Jew (deemed as such by halakha and/or Israeli secular law) and eligible non-Jews (a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew), the legal right to assisted immigration and settlement in Israel, as well as Israeli citizenship. Someone who "makes aliyah" is called an oleh (m. singular) or olah (f. singular); the plural for both is olim. Many religious Jews espouse aliyah as a return to the Promised land, and regard it as the fulfillment of God's biblical promise to the descendants of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Nachmanides (the Ramban) includes making aliyah in his enumeration of the 613 commandments.[5]

In the Talmud, at the end of tractate Ketubot, the Mishnah says: "A man may compel his entire household to go up with him to the land of Israel, but may not compel one to leave." The discussion on this passage in the Mishnah emphasizes the importance of living in Israel: "One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God."

Sifre says that the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael is as important as all the other mitzvot put together. There are many mitzvot such as shmita, the sabbatical year for farming, which can only be performed in Israel.[6]

In Zionist discourse, the term aliyah (plural aliyot) includes both voluntary immigration for ideological, emotional, or practical reasons and, on the other hand, mass flight of persecuted populations of Jews. The vast majority of Israeli Jews today trace their family's recent roots to outside of the country. While many have actively chosen to settle in Israel rather than some other country, many had little or no choice about leaving their previous home countries. While Israel is commonly recognized as "a country of immigrants", it is also, in large measure, a country of refugees.

According to the traditional Jewish ordering of books of the Tanakh (Old Testament), the very last word of the last book in the original Hebrew (2 Chronicles 36:23) is veya‘al, a jussive verb form derived from the same root as aliyah, meaning "and let him go up" (to Jerusalem in Judah).[7]

2 Chronicles 36:23 (KJV) Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.

Historical background[edit]

Return to the land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish prayers recited every day, three times a day, and holiday services on Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with the words "Next year in Jerusalem". Because Jewish lineage can provide a right to Israeli citizenship, aliyah (returning to Israel) has both a secular and a religious significance.

For generations of religious Jews, aliyah was associated with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, who was to redeem the land of Israel from gentile rule and return world Jewry to the land under a Halachic theocracy.[8]

Pre-Zionist Aliyah[edit]

Main article: Pre-Zionist Aliyah

Biblical[edit]

The Hebrew Bible relates that the patriarch Abraham came to the Land of Canaan with his family and followers in approximately 1800 BC. His grandson Jacob went down to Egypt with his family, and after several centuries there, the Israelites went back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua, entering it in about 1300 BC.

A few decades after the fall of the Kingdom of Judah and the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, approximately 50,000 Jews returned to Zion following the Cyrus Declaration from 538 BC. The Jewish priestly scribe Ezra led the Jewish exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem in 459 BC. Others returned throughout the era of the Second Temple.

200–500 AD[edit]

In late antiquity, the two hubs of rabbinic learning were Babylonia and the land of Israel. Throughout the Amoraic period, many Babylonian Jews immigrated to the land of Israel and left their mark on life there, as rabbis and leaders.[9]

10th–11th century[edit]

In the 10th century, leaders of the Karaite Jewish community, mostly living under Persian rule, urged their followers to settle in Eretz Yisrael. The Karaites established their own quarter in Jerusalem, on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. During this period, there is abundant evidence of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Jews from various countries, mainly in the month of Tishrei, around the time of the Sukkot holiday.[10]

1200–1882[edit]

The number of Jews migrating to the land of Israel rose significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421), and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492) were seen by many as a sign of approaching redemption and contributed greatly to the messianic spirit of the time.[11]

Aliyah was also spurred during this period by the resurgence of messianic fervor among the Jews of France, Italy, the Germanic states, Poland, Russia, and North Africa.[citation needed] The belief in the imminent coming of the Jewish Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel encouraged many who had few other options to make the perilous journey to the land of Israel.

Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 "aliyah of the three hundred rabbis" and their descendants. It is thought that few survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229 and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer, added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed.

The messianic dreams of the Gaon of Vilna inspired one of the largest pre-Zionist waves of immigration to Eretz Yisrael. In 1808 hundreds of the Gaon's disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed, and later formed the core of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem.[12][13] This was part of a larger movement of thousands of Jews from countries as widely spaced as Persia and Morocco, Yemen and Russia, who moved to Israel beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century—and in even larger numbers after the conquest of the region by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1832—all drawn by the expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in the Jewish year 5600, Christian year 1840, a movement documented in Arie Morgenstern's Hastening Redemption.

There were also those who like the British mystic Laurence Oliphant tried to lease Northern Palestine to settle the Jews there (1879).

Zionist Aliyah (1882 on)[edit]

Further information: Zionism
Aliyah by numbers and by source

In Zionist history, the different waves of aliyah, beginning with the arrival of the Biluim from Russia in 1882, are categorized by date and the country of origin of the immigrants.

The first modern period of immigration to receive a number in common speech was the Third Aliya, which in the World War I period was referred to as the successor to the First and Second Aliyot from Babylonia in the Biblical period. Reference to earlier modern periods as the First and Second Aliyot appeared first in 1919 and took a while to catch on.[14]

First Aliyah (1882–1903)[edit]

Main article: First Aliyah

Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to the southwestern area of Syria, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority, belonging to the Hovevei Zion and Bilu movements, came from the Russian Empire with a smaller number arriving from Yemen. Many established agricultural communities. Among the towns that these individuals established are Petah Tikva (already in 1878), Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pinna, and Zikhron Ya'akov. In 1882 the Yemenite Jews settled in the Arab village of Silwan located south-east of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.[15]

Second Aliyah (1904–1914)[edit]

Main article: Second Aliyah

Between 1904 and 1914, 40,000 Jews immigrated mainly from Russia to southwestern Syria following pogroms and outbreaks of anti-Semitism in that country. This group, greatly influenced by socialist ideals, established the first kibbutz, Degania Alef, in 1909 and formed self-defense organizations, such as Hashomer, to counter increasing Arab hostility and to help Jews to protect their communities from Arab marauders.[16] Ahuzat Bayit, a new suburb of Jaffa established in 1906, eventually grew to become the city of Tel Aviv. During this period, some of the underpinnings of an independent nation-state arose: Hebrew, the ancient national language, was revived as a spoken language; newspapers and literature written in Hebrew were published; political parties and workers organizations were established. The First World War effectively ended the period of the Second Aliyah.

Third Aliyah (1919–1923)[edit]

Main article: Third Aliyah
Abba Hushi during his Hachshara, circa 1920

Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews, mainly from Eastern Europe arrived in the wake of World War I. The British occupation of Palestine and the establishment of the British Mandate created the conditions for the implementation of the promises contained in theBalfour Declaration of 1917. Many of the Jewish immigrants were ideologically driven pioneers, known as halutzim, trained in agriculture and capable of establishing self-sustaining economies. In spite of immigration quotas established by the British administration, the Jewish population reached 90,000 by the end of this period. The Jezreel Valley and the Hefer Plain marshes were drained and converted to agricultural use. Additional national institutions arose such as the Histadrut (General Labor Federation); an elected assembly; national council; and the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces.

Fourth Aliyah (1924–1929)[edit]

Main article: Fourth Aliyah

Between 1924 and 1929, 82,000 Jews arrived, many as a result of anti-Semitism in Poland and Hungary. The immigration quotas of the United States kept Jews out. This group contained many middle-class families that moved to the growing towns, establishing small businesses, and light industry. Of these approximately 23,000 left the country.[17]

Fifth Aliyah (1929–1939)[edit]

Main article: Fifth Aliyah
A page from a passport issued by the Polish Republic in 1934 to a couple of Jews who decided to emigrate to Mandatory Palestine.

Between 1929 and 1939, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new wave of 250,000 immigrants arrived; the majority of these, 174,000, arrived between 1933 and 1936, after which increasing restrictions on immigration by the British made immigration clandestine and illegal, called Aliyah Bet. The Fifth Aliyah was again driven mostly from Eastern Europe but contained a large numbers of professionals, doctors, lawyers, and professors, from Germany. Refugee architects introduced the Bauhaus style (the White City of Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of International Style architecture in the world with a strong element of Bauhaus) and founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. With the completion of the port at Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the predominantly agricultural economy. The Jewish population reached 450,000 by 1940.

At the same time, tensions between Arabs and Jews grew during this period, leading to a series of Arab riots against the Jews in 1929 that left many dead and resulted in the depopulation of the Jewish community in Hebron. This was followed by more violence during the "Great Uprising" of 1936–1939. In response to the ever increasing tension between the Arabic and Jewish communities married with the various commitments the British faced at the dawn of World War II, the British issued the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 people for five years. This served to create a relatively peaceful eight years in Palestine while the Holocaust unfolded in Europe.

Shortly after their rise to power, the Nazis negotiated the Ha'avara or "Transfer" Agreement with the Jewish Agency under which 50,000 German Jews and $100 million worth of their assets would be moved to Palestine.[18]

Aliyah Bet: Illegal immigration (1933–1948)[edit]

Main article: Aliyah Bet
Buchenwald survivors arrive in Haifa to be arrested by the British, July 15, 1945

The British government limited Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine with quotas, and following the rise of Nazism to power in Germany, illegal immigration to Mandatory Palestine commenced.[19] The illegal immigration was known as Aliyah Bet ("secondary immigration"), or Ha'apalah, and was organized by the Mossad Le'aliyah Bet, as well as by the Irgun. Immigration was done mainly by sea, and to a lesser extent overland through Iraq and Syria. During World War II and the years that followed until independence, Aliyah Bet became the main form of Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine.

Following the war, Berihah ("escape"), an organization of former partisans and ghetto fighters was primarily responsible for smuggling Jews from Poland and Eastern Europe to the Italian ports from which they traveled to Mandatory Palestine. Despite British efforts to curb the illegal immigration, during the 14 years of its operation, 110,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine. In 1945 reports of the Holocaust with its 6 million Jewish dead, caused many Jews in Palestine to turn openly against the British Mandate, and illegal immigration escalated rapidly as many Holocaust survivors joined the Aliyah.

Early statehood (1948–1960)[edit]

Main article: Bricha

After Aliyah Bet, the process of numbering or naming individual aliyot ceased, but immigration did not. A major wave of Jewish immigration, mainly from post-Holocaust Europe and the Arab and Muslim world took place from 1948 to 1951. In three and a half years, the Jewish population of Israel, which was 650,000 at the state's founding, was more than doubled by an influx of about 688,000 immigrants.[20] In 1949, the largest-ever number of olim in a single year - 249,954 - arrived in Israel.[3] This period of immigration is often termed kibbutz galuyot (literally, ingathering of exiles), due to the large number of Jewish diaspora communities that made aliyah. However, kibbutz galuyot can also refer to aliyah in general.

At the beginning of the immigration wave, most of the immigrants to reach Israel were Holocaust survivors from Europe, including many from displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy, and from British detention camps on Cyprus. Large sections of shattered Jewish communities throughout Europe, such as those from Poland and Romania also immigrated to Israel, with some communities, such as those from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, being almost entirely transferred. At the same time, the number of immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries increased. Special operations were undertaken to evacuate Jewish communities perceived to be in serious danger, such as Operation Magic Carpet, which evacuated almost the entire Jewish population of Yemen, and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, which airlifted most of the Jews of Iraq to Israel.[20] Nearly the entire Jewish population of Libya left for Israel around this time.

This resulted in a period of austerity. To ensure that Israel, which at that time had a small economy and scant foreign currency reserves, could provide for the immigrants, a strict regime of rationing was put in place. Measures were enacted to ensure that all Israeli citizens had access to adequate food, housing, and clothing. Austerity was very restrictive until 1953; the previous year, Israel had signed a reparations agreement with West Germany, in which the West German government would pay Israel as compensation for the Holocaust, due to Israel's taking in a large number of Holocaust survivors. The resulting influx of foreign capital boosted the Israeli economy and allowed for the relaxing of most restrictions. The remaining austerity measures were gradually phased out throughout the following years.

A Ma'abarah in 1952

When new immigrants arrived in Israel, they were sprayed with DDT, underwent a medical examination, were inoculated against diseases, and were given food. The earliest immigrants received desirable homes in established urban areas, but most of the immigrants were then sent to transit camps, known initially as immigrant camps, and later as Ma'abarot. Many were also initially housed in reception centers in military barracks. By the end of 1950, some 93,000 immigrants were housed in 62 transit camps. The Israeli government's goal was to get the immigrants out of refugee housing and into society as speedily as possible. Immigrants who left the camps received a ration card, an identity card, a mattress, a pair of blankets, and $21 to $36 in cash. They settled either in established cities and towns, or in kibbutzim and moshavim.[20][21] Many others stayed in the Ma'abarot as they were gradually turned into permanent cities and towns, which became known as development towns, or were absorbed as neighborhoods of the towns they were attached to, and the tin dwellings were replaced with permanent housing.

In the early 1950s, the immigration wave subsided, and emigration increased; ultimately, some 10% of the immigrants would leave Israel for other countries in the following years. In 1953, immigration to Israel averaged 1,200 a month, while emigration averaged 700 a month. The end of the period of mass immigration gave Israel a critical opportunity to more rapidly absorb the immigrants still living in transit camps.[22] The Israeli government built 260 new settlements and 78,000 housing units to accommodate the immigrants, and by the mid-1950s, almost all were in permanent housing.[23] The last ma'abarot closed in 1963.

In the mid-1950s, a smaller wave of immigration began from North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, many of which where in the midst of nationalist struggles. Between 1952 and 1964, some 240,000 North African Jews came to Israel. During this period, smaller but significant numbers arrived from other places such as Europe, Iran, India, and Latin America.[23] In particular, a small immigration wave from Poland, known as the "Gomulka Aliyah", took place during this period. From 1956 to 1960, Poland permitted free Jewish emigration, and some 50,000 Polish Jews immigrated to Israel.[24]

Since the founding of the State of Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel was mandated as the organization responsible for aliyah in the diaspora.[25]

Aliyah from Arab countries[edit]

Yemenite Jews on their way to Israel

From 1948 until the early 1970s, around 900,000 Jews from Arab lands left, fled, or were expelled from various Arab nations.[26][27][28][29] In the course of Operation Magic Carpet (1949–1950), nearly the entire community of Yemenite Jews (about 49,000) immigrated to Israel. Its other name, Operation On Wings of Eagles (Hebrew: כנפי נשרים, Kanfei Nesharim), was inspired by

Exodus 19:4 - Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.[30] and
Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.[31] Some 120,000 Iraqi Jews were airlifted to Israel in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.

Aliyah from Iran[edit]

Following the establishment of Israel, about one-third of Iranian Jews, most of them poor, immigrated to Israel. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, most of the Iranian Jewish community left, with some 30,000 Iranian Jews immigrating to Israel. Many Iranian Jews also settled in the United States (especially in New York City and Los Angeles).[32]

Aliyah from Ethiopia[edit]

Main article: Aliyah from Ethiopia

The first major wave of aliyah from Ethiopia took place in the mid-1970s. The massive airlift known as Operation Moses began to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel on November 18, 1984, and ended on January 5, 1985. During those six weeks, some 6,500–8,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown from Sudan to Israel. An estimated 2,000–4,000 Jews died en route to Sudan or in Sudanese refugee camps. In 1991 Operation Solomon was launched to bring the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia. In one day, May 24, 34 aircraft landed at Addis Ababa and brought 14,325 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. Since that time, Ethiopian Jews have continued to immigrate to Israel bringing the number of Ethiopian-Israelis today to over 100,000.

Aliyah from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states[edit]

Soviet authorities break up a demonstration of Jewish refuseniks in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the right to immigrate to Israel, January 10, 1973[33]

A mass emigration was politically undesirable for the Soviet regime. The only acceptable ground was family reunification, and a formal petition ("вызов", vyzov) from a relative from abroad was required for the processing to begin. Often, the result was a formal refusal. The risks to apply for an exit visa compounded because the entire family had to quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offense. Because of these hardships, Israel set up the group Lishkat Hakesher in the early 1950s to maintain contact and promote aliyah with Jews behind the Iron Curtain.

From Israel's establishment in 1948 to the Six-Day War in 1967, Soviet aliyah remained minimal. Those who made aliyah during this period were mainly elderly people granted clearance to leave for family reunification purposes. Only about 22,000 Soviet Jews managed to reach Israel. In the wake of the Six-Day War, the USSR broke off the diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. An Anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in the state-controlled mass media and the rise of Zionology were accompanied by harsher discrimination of the Soviet Jews. By the end of the 1960s, Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union had become practically impossible, and the majority of Soviet Jews were assimilated and non-religious, but this new wave of state-sponsored anti-Semitism on one hand, and the sense of pride for victorious Jewish nation over Soviet-armed Arab armies on the other, stirred up Zionist feelings.

After the Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair and the crackdown that followed, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities to increase the emigration quota. In the years 1960–1970, the USSR let only 4,000 people leave; in the following decade, the number rose to 250,000.[34] The exodus of Soviet Jews began in 1968.[35]

Year Exit visas
to Israel
Olim from
the USSR[34]
1968 231 231
1969 3,033 3,033
1970 999 999
1971 12,897 12,893
1972 31,903 31,652
1973 34,733 33,277
1974 20,767 16,888
1975 13,363 8,435
1976 14,254 7,250
1977 16,833 8,350
1978 28,956 12,090
1979 51,331 17,278
1980 21,648 7,570
1981 9,448 1,762
1982 2,692 731
1983 1,314 861
1984 896 340
1985 1,140 348
1986 904 201

Between 1968 and 1973, almost all Soviet Jews allowed to leave settled in Israel, and only a small minority moved to other Western countries. However, in the following years, the number of those moving to other Western nations increased.[35] Soviet Jews granted permission to leave were taken by train to Austria to be processed and then flown to Israel. There, the ones who chose not to go to Israel, called "dropouts", exchanged their immigrant invitations to Israel for refugee status in a Western country, especially the United States. Eventually, most Soviet Jews granted permission to leave became dropouts. In 1989 a record 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR, of whom only 12,117 immigrated to Israel.

According to Israeli Immigrant Absorption Minister Yaakov Zur, over half of Soviet Jewish dropouts who immigrated to the United States assimilated and ceased to live as Jews within a short period of time.[36]

Israel was concerned over the dropout rate, and suggested that Soviet emigres be flown directly to Israel from the Soviet Union or Romania. Israel argued that it needed highly skilled and well-educated Soviet Jewish immigrants for its survival. In addition to contributing to the country's economic development, Soviet immigration was also seen as a counterweight to the high fertility rate among Israeli-Arabs.[35] In addition, Israel was concerned that the dropout rate could result in immigration being banned once again. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption's position was that "it could jeopardize the whole program if Jews supposedly going to Israel all wind up in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. How will the Soviets explain to their own people that it's just Jews who are allowed to emigrate to the U.S.?"[36]

In 1989 the United States changed its immigration policy of unconditionally granting Soviet Jews refugee status. That same year, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev ended restrictions on Jewish immigration, and the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991. Since then, about a million Russians immigrated to Israel,[37] including approximately 240,000 who were not Jewish according to rabbinical law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

The number of non-Jews among the immigrants from the former USSR has been constantly rising ever since 1989. For example, in 1990 around 96% of the immigrants were Jews and only 4% were non-Jewish family members. However in 2000, the proportion was: Jews (includes children from non-Jewish father and Jewish mother) - 47%, Non-Jewish spouses of Jews - 14%, children from Jewish father and non-Jewish mother - 17%, Non-Jewish spouses of children from Jewish father and non-Jewish mother - 6%, non-Jews with a Jewish grandparent - 14% & Non-Jewish spouses of non-Jews with a Jewish grandparent - 2%.[38]

Due to the growing 2014 Ukrainian unrest, Ukrainian Jews making aliyah from the Ukraine reached 142% higher during the first four months of 2014 compared to the previous year.[39][40][41] 4,200 immigrants from Ukraine and 4,500 immigrants made aliyah from Russia as of September 22nd 2014, a 110 and 22 percent increase from both countries respectively from the previous year.[42]

Aliyah from Latin America[edit]

In the 1999–2002 Argentine political and economic crisis that caused a run on the banks, wiped out billions of dollars in deposits and decimated Argentina's middle class, most of the country's estimated 200,000 Jews were directly affected. Some 4,400 chose to start over and move to Israel, where they saw opportunity.

More than 10,000 Argentine Jews immigrated to Israel since 2000, joining the thousands of previous olim already there. The crisis in Argentina also affected its neighbour country Uruguay, from which about half of its 40,000-strong Jewish community left, mainly to Israel, in the same period. During 2002 and 2003 the Jewish Agency for Israel launched an intensive public campaign to promote aliyah from the region, and offered additional economic aid for immigrants from Argentina. Although the economy of Argentina improved, and some Argentine olim returned to Argentina following the country's economic growth from 2003 onwards, Argentine Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, albeit in smaller numbers than before. The Argentine community in Israel is about 50,000-70,000 people, the largest Latin American group in the country.

There has also been aliyah from other Latin American countries that have experienced crises, though they have come in smaller numbers and are not eligible for the same economic benefits as Argentine olim.

In Venezuela, growing antisemitism in the country, including antisemitic violence, caused an increasing number of Jews to make aliyah during the 2000s. For the first time in Venezuelan history, Jews began leaving for Israel in the hundreds. By November 2010, more than half of Venezuela's 20,000-strong Jewish community had left the country.[43][44]

Aliyah from France[edit]

From 2000 to 2009, more than 13,000 French Jews made aliyah, largely as a result of growing anti-semitism in the country. A peak was reached in 2005, with 2,951 olim. However, between 20-30% eventually returned to France.[45] With the start of the Second Intifada in Israel, anti-Semitic incidents became more frequent in France. In 2002, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme (National Human Rights Commission) reported six times more anti-Semitic incidents than in 2001 (193 incidents in 2002). The commission's statistics showed that anti-Semitic acts constituted 62% of recorded racist acts in the country (compared to 45% in 2001 and 80% in 2000). The report documented 313 violent acts against people or property, including 38 injuries and the torture-murder of French Jew Ilan Halimi. Since 2005, the number of acts dropped but is still at a significantly higher level than during the previous decade.[46][better source needed] Anti-Semitic incidents rose again during the Gaza War. After the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, French aliyah dropped due to the Jewish community's comfort with him. In 2010 only 1,286 French Jews made aliyah.[47]

By 2012, some 200,000 French citizens and expatriates live in Israel.[48] During the same year, following the election of François Hollande and the Jewish school shooting in Toulouse, as well as ongoing acts of anti-semitism and the European economic crisis, an increasing number of French Jews began buying property in Israel.[49] In August 2012, it was reported that anti-semitic attacks had risen by 40% in the five months following the Toulouse shooting, and that many French Jews were seriously considering immigrating to Israel.[50] In 2013, 3,120 French Jews immigrated to Israel, marking a 63% increase over the previous year.[51] In the first two months of 2014, French Jewish aliyah increased precipitously by 312% with 854 French Jews making aliyah over the first two months. Immigration from France throughout 2014 has been attributed to several factors, of which includes increasing antisemitism, in which many Jews have been harassed and attacked by a fusillade of local thugs and gangs, a stagnant European economy and concomitant high youth unemployment rates.[52][53][54][55]

During the first few months of 2014, The Jewish Agency of Israel has continued to encourage an increase of French aliyah through aliyah fairs, Hebrew-language courses, sessions which assist in potential olim to find jobs in Israel, and immigrant absorption in Israel.[56] A May 2014 survey revealed that 74 percent of French Jews consider leaving France for Israel where of the 74 percent, 29.9 percent cited anti-Semitism. Another 24.4 cited their desire to “preserve their Judaism,” while 12.4 percent said they were attracted by other countries. “Economic considerations” was cited by 7.5 percent of the respondents.[57] By June 2014, it was estimated by the end of 2014 a full 1 percent of the French Jewish community will have made aliyah to Israel, the largest in a single year. Many Jewish leaders stated the emigration is being driven by a combination of factors, including the cultural gravitation towards Israel and France’s economic woes, especially for the younger generation drawn by the possibility of other socioeconomic opportunities in the more vibrant Israeli economy.[58][59] During the Hebrew year 5774 (September 2013 - September 2014) for the first time ever, more Jews made Aliyah from France than any other country, with approximately 6,000 French Jews making aliyah, mainly fleeing rampant antisemitism, pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist violence and economic malaise with France becoming the top sending country for aliyah as of late September 2014.[60][61]

Aliyah from North America[edit]

Nefesh B'Nefesh group welcomes North American olim to Israel

More than 200,000 North American immigrants live in Israel. There has been a steady flow of olim from North America since Israel’s inception in 1948.[62][63]

Several thousand American Jews moved to Mandate Palestine before the State of Israel was established. From Israel's establishment in 1948 to the Six-Day War in 1967, aliyah from the United States and Canada was minimal. In the 1950s, 6,000 North American Jews arrived in Israel, of whom all but 1,000 returned.

Record numbers arrived in the late 1960s after the Six-Day War, and in the 1970s. Between 1967 and 1973, 60,000 North American Jews immigrated to Israel. However, many of them later returned to their original countries.[64][65]

Like Western European olim, North Americans tend to immigrate to Israel more for religious, ideological, and political purposes, and not financial or security ones.[66] Many immigrants began arriving in Israel after the First and Second Intifada, with a total of 3,052 arriving in 2005 — the highest number since 1983.[67]

Nefesh B'Nefesh, founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, works to encourage Aliyah from North America and the UK by providing financial assistance, employment services and streamlined governmental procedures. Nefesh B’Nefesh works in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Government in increasing the numbers of North American and British olim.

Following the Global Financial Crisis in the late 2000s, American Jewish immigration to Israel rose. This wave of immigration was triggered by Israel's lower unemployment rate, combined with financial incentives offered to new Jewish immigrants. In 2009, aliyah was at its highest in 36 years, with 3,324 North American Jews making aliyah.[68]

Since the 1990s[edit]

New immigrants at the Israeli airport, 2007

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a steady stream of South African Jews, American Jews, and French Jews who have either made aliyah, or purchased property in Israel for potential future immigration. Over 2000 French Jews moved to Israel each year between 2000 and 2004 due to anti-Semitism in France.[69] The Bnei Menashe Jews from India, whose recent discovery and recognition by mainstream Judaism as descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes is subject to some controversy, slowly started their Aliyah in the early 1990s and continue arriving in slow numbers.[70] Organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh and Shavei Israel help with aliyah by supporting financial aid and guidance on a variety of topics such as finding work, learning Hebrew, and assimilation into Israeli culture.

In early 2007 Haaretz reported that aliyah for the year of 2006 was down approximately 9% from 2005, "the lowest number of immigrants recorded since 1988".[71] The number of new immigrants in 2007 was 18,127, the lowest since 1988. Only 36% of these new immigrants came from the former Soviet Union (close to 90% in the 1990s) while the number of immigrants from countries like France and the United States is stable.[72] Some 15,452 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2008 and 16,465 in 2009.[73] On October 20, 2009, the first group of Kaifeng Jews arrived in Israel, in an aliyah operation coordinated by Shavei Israel.[74][75][76] Shalom Life reported that over 19,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2010, an increase of 16 percent over 2009.[77]

Statistics[edit]

The number of immigrants since 1882 by period, continent of birth, and country of birth is given in the table below. Continent of birth and country of birth data is almost always unavailable or nonexistent for before 1919.[47][78]

Region/Country 1882–
1918
1919–
1948
1948–
1951
1952–
1960
1961–
1971
1972–
1979
1980–
1989
1990–
2001
2002–
2010
2011–
2013
Total
Africa 12,180 96,272 149,706 165,372 20,109 28,822 55,560 31,419 7,755 560,195
Algeria 300 3,810 3,433 18,857[79] 2,137 1,830 1,682 1,967 167 34,074
Egypt 4,000[80] 16,514[81] 19,968[82][83][84] 2,963 535 372 202 166 14 44,754
Ethiopia 10 59 98 306 16,965 45,126 23,613 6,368 92,840[85][86][87][88]
Libya 2,700[89][90] 33,500[91] 2,079 2,466 219 67 94 36 5 41,316
Morocco 1,500[92] 30,750 95,945 130,507 7,780 3,809 3,276 2,113 238 275,768
South Africa 250 683 995 5,990 6,443 3,829 3,603 1,546 531 23,876[85][86][87][88]
Tunisia 1,200[93] 13,338 23,569 11,566 2,148 1,942 1,607 1,871 250 56,446
Zimbabwe 37 22 145 393 82 26 22 3 722
Other (Africa) 1,907 203 83 500 148 16 318 85 19 2,702
Americas and Oceania 9,872 4,735 8,584 53,492 53,706 43,650 44,302 48,660 10,445 277,446
Argentina 230 1,148 3,921 15,203 15,235 11,359 11,673 10,147 766 69,696[85][86][87][88]
Australia 116 107 742 1,146 835 977 365 188 4,565[88][94]
Bolivia 0 0 199 94 80 53 84 11 521
Brazil 304 763 2,601 1,763 1,763 2,356 2,037 480 12,271[88][94]
Canada 310 236 276 2,169 2,178 1,867 1,963 1,702 638 11,673[88][94]
Central America (other countries which are not specifically mentioned here) 17 43 129 104 8 153 157 611
Chile 350 401 1,790 1,180 1,040 683 589 82 6,115
Colombia 0 0 415 552 475 657 965 206 3,270
Cuba 223 88 405 79 42 629 606 118 2,102
Ecuador 0 0 40 38 44 67 69 9 267
Mexico 48 168 736 861 993 1,049 697 238 4,790[88][94]
New Zealand 70 13 91 129 124 142 42 9 620
Panama 0 0 64 43 48 50 40 10 255
Peru 0 0 269 243 358 612 1,539 116 3,137
South America (other countries which are not specifically mentioned here) 42 194 89 62 0 66 96 549
United States 9,000[95] 2,265 5,282 26,261 27,552 22,408 21,727 27,199 7,558 148,152[85][86][87][88]
Uruguay 420 845 2,821 2,582 2,320 1,063 1,555 182 11,522[88][94][96]
Venezuela 0 0 297 245 180 418 602 123 1,865
Other (Americas/Oceania) 318 313 0 148 3 8 44 12 238 1,084
Asia 64,324 242,200 37,119 56,208 19,456 97,050 184,245 22,845 2,271 736,354
Afghanistan 1,700[97] 2,302 1,105 515 132 57 21 13 5,648
Armenia 0 0 0 0 40 1,935 [98] 312[98] 71 2,318
Azerbaijan 0 0 0 13,200[99][100] 33,453[98] 2,192[98] 295 48,640
Burma 0 0 0 147 83 383 138 784
China 6,815[101][102][103][a] 245 96 43 78 277 84 21 7,778
Cyprus 21 35 28 21 12 32 0 3 151
Georgia 0 0 0 0 33,500[104][105][106][107] 21,134[98] 3,028 [98] 586 56,338
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka 250 2,176 5,380 13,110 3,497 1,539 2,055 961 68 29,047
Iran 3,500 24,804 16,177 22,972 9,550 17,487[108][109][110][111][112][113] 4,326 1,097 97 98,945
Iraq 8,000[114] 121,511 2,989 3,509 939 111 1,325 130 8 138,514
Israel 411 868 1,021 507 288 1,148 1,448 201 5,892
Japan 0 9 25 34 57 98 32 2 257
Jordan 6 9 23 6 9 15 0 0 68
Kazakhstan 0 0 0 0 260 17,764 2,498 298 21,118
Kyrgyzstan 0 0 0 0 735 4,660 654 103 6,140
Lebanon 235 846 2,208 564 179 96 34 5 4,167
Mongolia, South Korea, and North Korea 0 0 4 5 10 100 36 155
Saudi Arabia 177 0 4 0 5 0 0 0 186
Syria 10,200[115][b] 5,630[116] 1,870 3,121 842 995 1,664 23 0 24,428
Tajikistan 0 0 0 2,700[117] 10,427 131 19 14,348[98]
Turkey 13,500[118][119] 36,425 6,871 14,073 3,118 2,088 1,311 817 244 78,350
Turkmenistan 0 0 0 0 110 2,268 573 48 3,004[98]
Uzbekistan 0 0 0 0 21,000[120][120][121][c] 78,905[98] 6,162[98] 582 108,648
Yemen 5,000[122] 18,000[123] 50,004[124] 1,170 1,065 51 17 683 103 69 74,162
Other (Asia) 13,135 947 0 60 21 45 205 30 55 14,498
Europe 508,195 365,315 111,275 168,488 190,336 75,852 958,834 119,628 32,412 2,446,873
Albania 0 5 8 0 0 376 0 0 389
Austria 20,800[125][126][127][128][129][130] 2,994 610 1,021 595 356 368 150 37 26,131
Belgium 520[131] 1,108 394 1,112 847 788 1,053 873 517 7,213
Bulgaria 12,700[132][133] 44,267[134][135][136] 1,896 794 118 180 3,999 341 62 63,392
Czech Republic and Slovakia 28,800[137][138][139][140][141][142][143][144] [145][146] 21,464[134][147][148][149] 783 4,678[150][151] 888 462 527 217 33 57,851
Denmark 27 46 298 292 411 389 85 17 1,565
Finland 9 20 172 184 222 212 33 12 864
France 1,600 4,008 2,286 20,162 12,148 12,827 16,882 21,351 7,054 98,101[85][86][87][88]
Germany 65,400[152][153][154][155][156][157] 8,856 1,386 3,175 2,080 1,759 2,442 866 197 85,594
Greece 16,500[158][159][160] 2,131 676 514 326 147 127 48 18 20,498
Hungary 32,500[161][162][163][164] 20,862[165][166][167][168] 10,598[169][170][171][172] 2,601 1,100 1,005 2,444 730 405 68,402
Ireland 14 46 145 157 233 136 54 5 790
Italy 1,700 1,415 414 940 713 510 656 389 231 6,970
Luxembourg 30 15 15 7 12 0 4 2 85
Netherlands 1,200 1,435 646 1,470 1,170 1,239 997 365 76 9,140
Norway 17 14 46 55 126 120 19 5 402
Poland 190,400[173][174][175] 114,502[176] 50,134[177][178][179] 9,075[177] 6,218 2,807 3,064 764 97 376,862
Portugal 16 22 66 56 55 47 28 11 301
Romania 1,000[180] 74,100[161][181][182][183][184] [i] 126,216 32,562 93,565 20,612 14,607 6,254 711 149 368,765
Soviet Union (Europe) 70,000[185][186] 52,500 8,163 13,743 29,376 137,134[187][188] 29,754 758,505 67,035 12,542 1,165,008
Thereof: Russia 22,200[189] 291,231[98] 35,635[98][190] 10,593 359,659
Thereof: Belarus 4,500[189] 70,409[98] 4,584[98] 611 80,104
Thereof: Ukraine 58,200[189][191][192][193] 299,821[98] 24,008[98] 6,082 388,111
Thereof: Moldova 24,200[189] 48,261[98] 2,591[98] 426 75,492
Thereof: Lithuania 25,300[194][195][196][197][198] 6,906[199][200] 588[200][201] 40[202] 32,834
Thereof: Latvia 16,200[203][204][205] 12,795[206] 434[201][207] 124[202] 29,453
Thereof: Estonia 290[208] 1,387[199][200] 124[201][209] 18[202] 1,819
Spain 80 169 406 327 321 269 178 151 1,916
Sweden 32 51 378 372 419 424 160 37 1,873
Switzerland 131 253 886 634 706 981 585 130 4,306
United Kingdom 2,670 2,306 1,730 7,444 6,844 7,754 6,634 5,265 1,561 42,211[85][86][87][88]
Yugoslavia(Former) 2,005 7,661 320 322 126 140 2,029 162 20 12,748
Other (Europe) 2,329 1,281 3 173 32 0 198 93 60 4,169
Not known 52,982 20,014 3,307 2,265 392 469 422 0 0 79,851
Total 72,260[210][c] 572,556 674,089 288,973 443,560 283,607 239,757 1,242,941 222,552 52,883 4,020,918

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]