A Quarter of a Million “Returning Exiles” Expected
“For I will take you from among the nations… and will bring you into your own land.” Ezekiel 36:24
Editor’s note: The return of Jewish immigrants from exile to Israel is prophesied throughout the Hebrew scriptures and alluded to in the New Testament. In Hebrew their return is referred to as “Aliyah” (literally “going up.”)
The Jewish Agency reports that 250,000 Jewish immigrants are expected to arrive in Israel within 5 years. Ten to fourteen thousand Jews already await immigration in Ethiopia. There has been a dramatic jump in the number of people interested in immigration to Israel, along with a slowdown in the rate of actual immigration in the first half of 2020 due to corona restrictions.
About 25,000 new immigration files have been opened: This is includes an increase of 91% from Western countries in general, and 400% from North America. It also includes a 36% increase in applications for immigration to Israel among young people.
The Jewish Agency Report presents data on immigration since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The report was officially presented to President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin during a visit to the Etzion Hebrew Language Studies School. He was accompanied by the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Yitzhak (Buzi) Herzog, and the chairman of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, Sam Grundwerg.
According to the data, about a quarter of a million people entitled by the Law of Return, are expected to immigrate to Israel in the next three to five years. The expectation is based on a number of components: “Aliyah emissary” reports from around the world, response to aliyah events abroad, and (especially) inquiries to the Jewish Agency’s “Global Center” regarding aliyah. There has been an increase of tens and even hundreds of percent in inquiries from those interested in immigration from all over the world. The report also shows that in the first half of 2020, approximately 8,500 immigrants from dozens of countries immigrated to Israel, compared with approximately 16,000 between January and June 2019.
During his tour of the Hebrew language school, the president met immigrants and talked with them, including:
- Noa Tomin, 26, who recently immigrated from Moscow;
- Ari Shrovsky, 32, who immigrated from Argentina and is a physician currently doing his residency at the Ichilov Hospital.
- Wally Spector, 21, who immigrated from South Africa about a year ago and will enlist in the IDF this September.
“Moving from one country to another is not easy. It often involves a feeling of alienation and loneliness. And now – also the isolation challenge because of the virus,” the president said, adding: “You chose to immigrate to Israel at a challenging time, during Corona. The challenges you face today – will become the stories you tell your children and grandchildren. Israel is not just another country you move to. We ‘go up’ when we immigrate to Israel. Israel is the home of the Jewish people. You are not alone, you are at home.”
The president referred to the report’s data about 10,000-14,000 Jews waiting to immigrate from Ethiopia. Their aliyah-immigration, according to estimates, will be spread out over several years. Rivlin said: “I call on the Israeli government from here, even in this complicated time-period, to find a way to solve the issue of aliyah for Ethiopian Jews…”
The chairman of the Jewish Agency, Yitzhak (Buzi) Herzog, said: “Immigration has never stopped, even in the most difficult crises experienced by the State of Israel. The aliyah report submitted to the President states that the State of Israel can absorb about a quarter of a million new immigrants from around the world over the next 5 years: young people, academics, entrepreneurs and those with professions that are in demand. Along with the challenges, this will also be a rare opportunity for the country. The waves of immigration to Israel throughout history have contributed significantly to the economy, culture, and Israeli society as a whole. The State of Israel must seize the opportunity… with the Jewish Agency and other bodies involved in Aliyah, and prepare a national plan for this welcome immigration, and prevent a historic missed opportunity. “