Approximately 19,200 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2013, according to data compiled by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. This is a modest increase from the 18,940 “Olim” who arrived in 2012.
2013 saw an overall increase of 35% in aliyah from Western Europe, with the arrival of 4,390 immigrants. Only 3,000 immigrants came from North America, compared to 3,389 in 2012, an 11 percent drop. 1,240 immigrants came to Israel from Latin America, a 34% increase from last year’s 926. The largest group of immigrants in 2013 came from the former Soviet Union and numbered 7,520. Jerusalem saw the arrival of the largest group of immigrants, some 2,400 in total. Tel Aviv received some 1,650 immigrants, a 20% increase over last year’s 1,373.
This past year showed a dramatic 63% increase in immigration from France, with the arrival of 3,120 immigrants, compared to 1,916 in 2012. Analysis of the data by the Jewish Agency attributes the sharp increase to Israel experience programs for French Jewish youth and aliyah encouragement efforts among the French Jewish community. The rabid Anti-Semitism on the rise in France may have served as a catalyst as well.
Approximately 245 immigrants came to Israel from Middle Eastern countries in 2013, a four percent increase over last year’s 236. 74 came from Turkey, similar to the number in 2012. 88 came from elsewhere in Asia and Africa, compared to 57 last year.
A striking characteristic of this year’s aliyah community is its youth: Some 60% of immigrants to Israel in 2013 were under the age of 35, including 37% between the ages of 18 and 34. This year also saw an increase in the number of young immigrants who participated in unique Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and Jewish Agency programs aimed at easing their integration into Israeli society. The oldest immigrant was a 103-year-old man from the United States and the youngest was five weeks old, also from the United States.
Thousands who arrived in 2013 are professionals and graduates of academic programs in various academic disciplines, and more than 700 are doctors and other healthcare professionals. Many have joined special Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and Jewish Agency programs for university graduates.
Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver stated: “The 2013 data proves that more and more Jews around the world realize that Israel is their home. Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy and I hope Aliyah continues to increase. The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption will continue to make every effort to achieve this important goal and make the decision to come to Israel easier.”
Natan Sharansky, Chairman of The Jewish Agency, said: “Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish people. That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s centrality to Jewish life and to Jews around the world. This is an era of Aliyah by choice, rather than Aliyah of rescue, and so it is important that we continue The Jewish Agency’s efforts to strengthen the young generation’s Jewish identity and deepen their connections to Israel.”