Aliyah up 31% over 2020 numbers so far

Immigration still significantly below 2019, although close to average for last decade if current trends continue till end of year.

Olim arriving in Israel (photo credit: DAVID SALEM-ZOOG PRODUCTIONS)
Olim arriving in Israel

Aliyah to Israel has bounced back strongly in 2021 so far with some 20,360 arriving in Israel to date, compared to 15,598 during the corresponding period in 2020, an increase of 31%.

The figures come ahead of the national holiday, Aliyah Day, on October 13, which celebrates immigrants to Israel from around the world.

At the same time, aliyah will still likely be much lower than the level reached in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when some 34,000 new immigrants arrived.

The final tally of immigrants for 2020 was 20,000, a 33% increase over the figures as of October that year.

If aliyah continues at the same rate for the last three months of 2021 as 2020, the final number of immigrants for this year will likely be between 26,000 and 27,000.

That would be approximately a 22% decrease over the 2019 figures. Aliyah that year was, however, especially high, the highest in a decade.

Nurses who made aliyah and will help fight the coronavirus (credit: CHANA GOLDSTEIN)Nurses who made aliyah and will help fight the coronavirus (credit: CHANA GOLDSTEIN)

The average number of immigrants per year in the decade from 2010 to 2019 was approximately 25,000, which would make the obtainment of 26,000 immigrants in 2021, should it transpire, an impressive achievement in the face of the global pandemic.

The cancellation of large numbers of commercial flights, the closure of government offices around the world, the slowdown in government bureaucracy and uncertainty and instability caused by the pandemic have all contributed to the sharp decline in immigration in 2020.

According to the data, the largest source of aliyah this year has been Russia, with 5,075 immigrants arriving (which marks a 5% decrease from last year), and the US, with 3,104 (who made aliyah with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh), up 41% from the first nine months of 2020.

Meanwhile, 2,819 immigrants have come from France (a 55% increase), 2,123 from Ukraine (4% increase), 780 from Belarus (69% increase), 633 from Argentina (46% increase), 490 from the United Kingdom (20% increase), 438 from Brazil (4% increase), and 373 from South Africa (56% increase).

Finally, 1,589 have come from Ethiopia, compared with 285 immigrants the previous year thanks to Operation Zur Israel, led by the Jewish Agency and the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, which helped immigrants reunite with their families after decades of being apart.

Jerusalem is now home to 2,184 of this year’s new immigrants, with 2,122 moving to Tel Aviv, 2,031 to Netanya, 1,410 to Haifa, and 744 to Ashdod. Meanwhile, Ra’anana, Beit Shemesh, Nahariya, Beersheba and Bat Yam have all absorbed more than 600 immigrants this year.

“I am pleased to launch Aliyah Week for 2021, where we salute olim [immigrants] for their contribution to the State of Israel,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata.

“I worked in the government to ensure aliyah does not stop for a moment – also during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns – because aliyah is the realization of the Zionist dream,” she said, adding that she was “pleased by the tremendous increase” in new immigrants over the 2020 numbers.

Jewish Agency acting chairman and World Zionist Organization chairman Yaakov Hagoel also expressed satisfaction with the aliyah figures in light of the “many limitations” caused by the pandemic.

“These olim are a strategic asset to the State of Israel and contribute to every aspect of life. We all must contribute to their integration. We are strengthened by each oleh who comes to Israel,” said Hagoel.”