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December 25, 2015 6:40 am

Joint Int’l Jewish-Israeli Initiative for Easing Aliyah: 100 Hebrew-Language Institutes to Open Across France

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Empty classroom. Photo: wiki commons.

A classroom. Some 100 new ulpanim will be opening up in France to teach Hebrew to potential immigrants to Israel. Photo: wiki commons.

The World Zionist Organization is planning to open some 100 new Hebrew-language institutes across France in 2016, in an effort to ease the process of immigration to Israel, WZO Chairman Avraham Duvdevani told the Israeli news site nrg on Wednesday.

Duvdevani said the language barrier was deterring French citizens from making aliyah, or immigrating to Israel. He said the initiative to establish the network of intensive Hebrew-language schools was launched with the assistance of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

The ministry recently reported that 8,000 French Jews had immigrated to Israel in 2015, up from 7,000 in 2014.  Duvdevani said each intensive Hebrew school, ulpan in Hebrew, would also distribute material on the immigration process.

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“The point of opening these ulpanim is to help French Jews considering immigrating to Israel, even if it’s in the distant future,” Duvdevani told nrg, adding that the schools would be located in Jewish community centers, affixed to Jewish day schools, synagogues and senior clubs.

“We want to make sure that everybody interested in aliyah and Hebrew-language acquisition can easily have access to it,” he said. Ulpanim generally focus on modern Hebrew, to help immigrants adjust to living in Israel.

“Every ulpan we open quickly fills up, regardless of the age or stream of Judaism,” he said. In addition, dozens of Hebrew teachers recently underwent a five-day training program in Paris, and they will undergo another five-day training program during a two-week trip to Israel.

Many say the increase in the immigration of French Jews to Israel is being fueled by a reported rise in antisemitism across Europe, and follows violent attacks against Jewish targets in European capitals like Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels. French authorities have vowed to step up efforts to combat antisemitism and have stationed police and security personnel at 717 French Jewish sites following attacks in January.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked some controversy earlier this year, when he encouraged European Jews to consider moving to Israel, which, he said, is “waiting for you with open arms.”

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