Israel’s Absorption Ministry Plans for Influx of French Jews
Immigration from France is on the rise: in the first half of 2015, approximately 5,100 French Jews immigrated to Israel – 25% more than in the same period in 2014.
Officials in the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption estimate the number will reach 9,000 by the end of the year – 1,800 more than the 2014 total.
The immigration surge was the subject of a report submitted recently to Minister of Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin by the head of the French Jewish Organizations in Israel, who presented the Minister with two scrolls containing the names of the immigrants for each year.
Elkin had hinted, in statements published in the Israeli press, that the Ministry faced a formidable challenge, as its absorption centers are currently functioning without a budget.
“The problem is that since the budget for 2015 has not yet been approved, we are currently operating on last year’s budget, which limits our resources and ability to plan ahead and adjust to the new situation,” a spokeswoman for Minister Elkin told Tazpit News Agency.
“In order to fill the gap, the government has made a series of special decisions to allocate funds from other sources,” she explained, adding that problems notwithstanding, the Ministry was fully prepared to absorb the newcomers.
One of those newcomers is Shira Brami, who immigrated to Israel from Paris last year.
“The terror attacks were the thing that really drove home the importance of Israel,” Brami, a 24 year-old law student, told Tazpit News Agency. “This is the reason we have a state.”
Brami was referring to the infamous Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher terror attacks in Paris in January this year, after which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a general call to European Jews, urging them to immigrate. The Hyper Cacher attack, which left four Jews dead, was a turning point for many French Jews.
Brami made the decision to make aliyah after years of visiting Israel.
“From a certain point on, I found it increasingly difficult to go back home,” Brami recalls. “Talking about Israel disturbed people; you could feel the hostility in the air. I asked myself, ‘Why not come to Israel?'”