More than 20,000 olim from 70 countries moved to Israel in 2020

New immigration to Israel still remains consistent, with new olim starting their new lives during a global pandemic.

 (photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)
(photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)
The Jewish Agency for Israel estimates that it will have assisted more than 20,000 olim (new immigrants) from 70 different countries make aliyah by the end of the year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Aliyah and Integration Ministry and the Interior Ministry helped in the effort, the Jewish Agency said.
Making aliyah has been a challenge for Jewish families worldwide, especially with limitations on mobility and international travel.
According to the Jewish Agency, during the January-November period this year, some 10,200 people arrived from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the former Soviet Union; 3,120 from Western Europe, including 2,220 from France; 2,850 from North America, including 2,550 from the US; 1,500 from Latin America; 280 from South Africa; and 90 from Australia and New Zealand. The total number of olim from Ethiopia in 2020 is expected to be 1,200, including 650 in December.
“A wonderful thing happened to us: Twenty thousand Jews immigrated to the State of Israel during this pandemic year,” Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said in a meeting with children who immigrated to Israel during the pandemic from all over the world. “Twenty thousand people who were ready to leave everything behind, in a challenging period of global turmoil, to come build a new life in Israel.”
The aliyah numbers for the year coincided with a sharp increase in people interested in moving to Israel. Since the start of 2020, the Jewish Agency has received some 160,000 inquiries about immigration to Israel and has opened about 41,000 new aliyah application files, including 28,000 from Western countries, twice the number in 2019. There was also a 41% increase in files opened for young adults aged 18-35 from Western countries.
The Jewish Agency estimates that Israel can expect an influx of about 250,000 olim to Israel over the next three to five years, assuming that the government implements a national plan for such a large wave of immigration and absorption.
“These olim landed straight into two weeks of isolation in a new country, unknown to everyone,” Herzog said. “There is nothing more exciting than seeing these wonderful children who made aliyah during this difficult year. I hope COVID-19 will soon be over for them and their friends, that we will see the great wave of immigration that we are anticipating from all over the world and that all the new olim will have a smooth integration and be received with much love.”
In accordance with health regulations, the olim went into quarantine immediately upon arrival in Israel, and thousands were housed in quarantine hotels set up for this purpose.
The Jewish Agency has been working to secure a vibrant Jewish future since 1929. Hundreds of Jewish Agency shluchim (emissaries) have served their host communities with a wide variety of virtual educational programming, as well as socially distant one-on-one meetings, and special projects to assist tens of thousands of families and young people.
In the wake of the pandemic, the Jewish Agency has also instituted an emergency plan to breathe hope into Jewish communities worldwide, including immediate and interest-free loans totaling tens of millions of shekels to dozens of Jewish organizations that provide essential services. The loan fund was created in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Keren Hayesod.
The Jewish Agency has also been involved with the establishment of Global Roundtables, in partnership with the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, consisting of leaders of 30 global and regional Jewish organizations, who are mapping out the needs of Jewish communities.
The Jewish Agency also does work in Israel, being able to aid vulnerable populations in Israel throughout the coronavirus crisis through caring for 7,000 elderly residents of Amigour senior housing, most of whom are Holocaust survivors and new immigrants, as well as daily assistance for the 6,000 new immigrants residing in absorption centers during the height of the pandemic, and a special aid campaign for Lone Immigrant Soldiers in the IDF.
It also provides support for thousands of children and their parents in Israel’s social and geographic peripheries (totaling around 12,000 Israelis at-risk) who participate in the Youth Futures program, whose staff help the children build confidence and skills in their academic and social lives, while establishing emotional resilience and distributing thousands of computer tablets to needy children to fully participate in distance learning.
The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk.