A new immigrant at Ben-Gurion airport kisses the tarmac as he makes aliya.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Large crowds of French Jews showed up at a Jewish Agency aliya fair in Paris on Sunday despite communal fears over security in the wake of last Friday’s standoff at a kosher supermarket that left four Jews dead.
Some 500 people showed up at the event to inquire about the possibility of making aliya, according to Daniel Benhaim, the Jewish Agency’s chief envoy in the French capital.
“The fact that hundreds showed up here despite the march and the transport problems it creates in central Paris is indicative of how central the concept of aliya has become for French Jews in recent years,” he said.
One issue many French immigrants have complained about is the difficulty of getting their professional accreditations recognized in Israel.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said Israel has been preparing the ground for French immigration for a long time and that there are a number of bureaucratic hurdles her ministry is looking to overcome to facilitate aliya.
Last year, the cabinet voted to appoint an inter-ministerial committee to seek solutions to ease the transition for immigrants and look at ways of removing barriers to employment and integrating new arrivals into the work force.
However, Landver said she is calling upon the Ministries of Health, Education, Economy and Finance to lower all barriers immediately, without waiting for new legislation, to facilitate aliya in order to bring as quickly as possible any French Jews who want to come to Israel.
Asked about how to best facilitate such immigration, Eli Cohen, the former head of aliya for both the Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said that aside from the issues raised by Landver, which he believes critical, there must be a great deal of coordination with local authorities to enable a smooth transition for immigrants.
The Kibbutz movement already has announced that it intends to open up dozens of its communities to absorb French olim as part of an emergency measure during this time of rising anti-Semitism.
Nearly 75% of thousands of French Jews who participated in a 2013 survey said they are considering emigrating.
Last week, Sharansky announced that some 50,000 French Jews asked the Jewish Agency for information about immigrating to Israel in 2014.