Jewish Agency estimates 50,000 possible immigrants for 2021

That would constitute almost double the average of recent years.

AN ENTHUSIASTIC welcome for new immigrants from France with T-shirts bearing the hashtag (in Hebrew) ‘#choosing Israel.’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
AN ENTHUSIASTIC welcome for new immigrants from France with T-shirts bearing the hashtag (in Hebrew) ‘#choosing Israel.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish Agency Secretary General Josh Schwarcz said on Wednesday that Israel can expect up to 50,000 new immigrants from around the world in 2021, a huge increase over figures from recent years.
Schwartz made his comments during the first meeting of the Knesset Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee on Wednesday, at which Likud MK David Bitan was inaugurated as the committee’s new chairman.
In 2019, approximately 35,000 people immigrated to Israel, but Schwarcz said the COVID-19 pandemic has severely weakened some Jewish communities abroad and could cause a huge spike in aliyah.
Shay Felber, director of the aliyah and absorption unit in the Jewish Agency, told The Jerusalem Post the organization was expecting increases in aliyah from North America, France, the countries of the former Soviet Union and South America.
Felber said that one of the major reasons Jews in the Diaspora were looking to make aliyah now was because of how well Israel has managed the COVID-19 pandemic, relative to the countries where they are currently living.
In addition, Jewish communities have faced financial problems due to the severe economic downturn resulting from the public health crisis, and some people are now looking for different solutions to these problems, including aliyah.
Felber added that, because of the increased use of technological solutions to work remotely during the pandemic, many people are realizing that working remotely from Israel is now more feasible.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, which organizes aliyah from North America, has said it has seen a massive rise in the number of people applying to make aliyah with them since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the US, where the Jewish community has been severely hit by the disease.
Similarly, the Qualita organization, which assists French immigrants in Israel, has said it has also witnessed widespread interest in aliyah in recent months, after the French Jewish community has also suffered heavily from COVID-19.
Bitan said during the Knesset committee hearing that the country needed to prepare for large-scale immigration because of the pandemic, as well as rising antisemitism, and added that he would strive to correct mistakes and discrepancies made in the past regarding efforts to encourage aliyah and absorb immigrants.
“We will advance budgets for these important issues,” he continued, adding that it was also important to help small Jewish communities abroad which might be currently struggling.
Hundreds of immigrants have continued to arrive in Israel since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and have had to go into immediate quarantine for 14 days.
The Jewish Agency set up an immigration hotline based in Jerusalem, linked to several dozen locations worldwide and staffed by multilingual professionals, in order to provide guidance and assistance to every immigrant before their arrival in Israel to help with the unusual circumstances.