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The Ebb and Flow of Aliyah

May 22, 2023

by: Janet Aslin

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New immigrants arriving in Israel

Monday, 22 May 2023 | There are at least 50 Scripture verses that speak of aliyah—the return of the Jewish people to Israel. These familiar words of the prophet Isaiah are just one example, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads” (Isa 35:10a, emphasis added). The biblical prophecies may lack specifics such as dates and statistics listed by country or age of immigrant. However, they are based on the solid rock of God’s intention to regather His dispersed people. So, let’s look at some of the ebbs and flows in the return of the “ransomed of the Lord.”

Some years are record-breaking when it comes to aliyah figures while others seem to be almost stagnant. Last year saw 76,261 olim (immigrants) arrive in Israel—nearly triple 2021’s figure. In contrast, the first four years of the modern State of Israel’s existence saw its population double from roughly 600,000 to 1.2 million Jewish inhabitants! This was primarily the result of Jewish refugees from neighboring Arab countries flooding in to the newly established nation.

Another time period that saw phenomenal growth was between 1985 and 1990 when Israel’s Jewish population jumped from 3,517,200 to 4,522,300, an increase of over one million in just 10 years. However, in the 75 years since statehood, aliyah figures have typically ranged between 15,000 and 30,000 new immigrants each year.

 Current Aliyah Figures

What does 2023 look like so far? Earlier this month, the Jewish Agency for Israel released a quarterly report which showed a total of 18,610 new olim. This reflects a 24% increase over the number of immigrants in the same quarter of 2022. However, there are some differences within that total.

Immigration from Western countries like the United States, France and the United Kingdom fell sharply while the Russian figures tripled, accounting for 75% of the total. France showed the largest drop with only 178 immigrants, down by two-thirds when compared to 2022. The United Kingdom wasn’t far behind with 50% fewer making a favorable decision for aliyah. Three hundred and ninety-one olim arrived from the United States, which was approximately one-third less than the previous year.

Both the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that facilitates immigration from North America, caution against reading too much into these figures. An article by the Times of Israel referred to this statement by the Jewish Agency, “The aliyah process is not immediate by its nature and therefore current trends are reflected only after some time.”

For its part, Nefesh B’Nefesh stressed, “Aliyah continues throughout the months of the year, both from abroad and from those who have already arrived in Israel before, and therefore when trying to trace trends and changes, it is better to refer to the data for the entire year.”

 How Much Longer?

Last September, the Jewish Agency released worldwide Jewish population statistics. The Jewish global population was approximately 15.3 million, of whom 7,080,000 called Israel home. That figure equates to 46.2% of the total Jewish population, which means we will still be reading about and praying about aliyah until the Lord completes the work He has begun.

There are few things we can be certain of in these tumultuous days, but the solid rock of God’s Word is one of them. And through the words of Isaiah, the Lord declared, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth” (Isa. 43.6).

Posted on May 22, 2023

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 22, 2023)

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