As yesterday drew to a close, 200 brand new Olim gathered at the Jerusalem Jewish Agency headquarters building to be officially welcomed and receive their Israeli identity cards. Seated in the spacious courtyard, beneath the balcony made famous when David BenGurion announced the results of the successful United Nations vote in November, 1947, the Olim were greeted by a succession of Jewish Agency professionals, in multiple languages, and by Immigration Minister Ms. Sofa Landver.
The new immigrants, the youngest of which was only ten days old, had arrived just the day before from South Africa, Mexico, England, France, Belgium, Turkey and Switzerland. Almost half were from Russia. Most, operating on minimal sleep, were clearly on a high from the occassion.
Maintaining momentum for Aliyah is certainly one of the Jewish Agency’s major challenges today. According to this morning’s Jerusalem Post, “From January 1 through September 30, just 11,939 Jews moved here from the Diaspora. At that rate, the total for this year may come in at around 15,000…” continuing a ten year slide.
However, the FSU countries remain one of the few bright spots, at least in percent increase. So far this year, Aliyah from this area is up 15% compared to last year and JAFI is forecasting a 20% increase for the year. This is the first time in the past decade that regions’ Aliyah has trended upwards.