I have no actual data to support this, but I do have a long-standing gut feeling that ba''alei teshuva and converts are overrepresented among olim. In plain English, I have observed that those who chose Jewish observance as adults, either Jews who were born into assimilated families and became religiously observant later in life, or those who were born into non-Jewish families and chose to become observant Jews, make aliyah in greater proportion than they exist in the general Jewish population.
My own experience certainly echoes this. I was raised in a nominally Jewish household, one that had been tossing off vestiges of traditional Judaism for a few generations. I always knew I was a Jew, but it meant very little to me. Until it started to mean the world to me.
In a very real sense, my relationship with Israel grew in exactly the same way. At first, it meant very little to me. Until it started to mean the world to me.
There are many parallels in the process of becoming religiously observant and making aliyah. When I became religiously observant decades ago, I had to integrate a whole new worldview. There was a new idiom to master. New customs to learn. A new social circle within which to interact. New ideas to study. New foods to eat. So many things I had to relearn. And, accompanying the process, the inevitable discomfort of being a newbie. There was so much I didn''t know about being a Jew that others seem to understand intuitively.
Making aliyah requires the exact same adjustments. Just last night, my husband and I were taking a walk not far from our house. We ran into a neighbor who was so happy to see us because her car had just died and she wasn''t sure what to do. In the Old Country, in the former lifestyle, we knew what to do. As newly observant Jews, and again as olim, we have to figure everything out all over again.
In many ways, making aliyah is a natural progression on our Jewish journeys. We have already overturned so much of our lives in the process of clinging to Torah, to God and to the Jewish people. When we became observant Jews, we reclaimed our connection to the God of Israel, Torat Yisrael and Am Yisrael. So too, by making aliyah, we have reclaimed our connection to Eretz Yisrael.
Like any deep growth, it ain''t easy. But it surely is worth it.