World Jewish News
Special fight brings 200 new immigrants from France to Israel
group of 200 new immigrants from France arrived in Israel aboard the largest aliya flight scheduled to land from Europe this summer, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The special El Al aliyah flight was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and Keren Hayesod-UIA.
The group was greeted at Ben Gurion Tel Aviv’s Airport by the Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, the Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar and the Chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA Eliezer Sandberg.
The group of olim (immigrants) includes 74 children and teenagers under the age of 18. The youngest immigrant is two-and-a-half months old, immigrating with her parents and sibling, and the oldest is a 92-year-old widower, who made aliya with his daughter and her husband.
The newcomers will live in Netanya, Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Ashdod, Netivot, Tel Aviv, and Herzliya. Several young professionals on board will join The Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion absorption program in Jerusalem.
The French Jewish community is the largest in Europe and the second-largest in the world outside of Israel, numbering nearly half a million.
French Jewish immigration to Israel has surged since the year 2012, breaking records for aliyah from France and from Western countries. 2014 marked the first time in Israel’s history that more than 1% of a Western Jewish community made aliyah in a single year.
More than 10% of the French Jewish community has immigrated to Israel since the year 2000, half in the past five years alone.
But immigration from France significantly decreased in 2016, after the country topped the aliya charts in 2015 with almost 8,000 new immigrants. Issues of employment and certification were flagged by French community representatives and aliya officials as the main cause of the decline.
In response to this unprecedented demand from French Jews, The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have developed a special plan to facilitate aliyah from France and ease French Jewish immigrants’ integration into Israeli society.
The plan includes efforts to educate young French Jews on Jewish culture and history, bring them to experience Israel on a variety of programs, provide French Jews with comprehensive aliyah information and counseling, remove barriers to employment, and increase the number of Jewish Agency emissaries in France.
Among the areas where the immigrants will be settling are: Netanya, Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Ashdod, Netivot, Tel Aviv and Herzliya. In addition, several young professionals are set to join the Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion absorption program in Jerusalem.
They arrived at a time when government ministries have announced positive developments on issues of employment for French olim from medical fields, which have in the past presented major barriers to their integration.