Senior members of Telfed – the South African Zionist Federation – estimated that the number of Jews immigrating to Israel from South Africa will increase due to the unstable political and social situation in the country, the depreciation of the local currency and the health tax increase, among other reasons. the South African rand has lost 50% of its value in recent years.
Members of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs visited Telfed’s offices on Monday and learned that some 400 Jews leave South Africa each year, but over the past few years only 230 of these Jews have immigrated to Israel each year. However, the Telfed officials said, this number is expected to reach 300 in the coming year.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Naguisa (Likud) praised Telfed’s activities and said its efforts throughout the country – and particularly in Ra’anana, where there is a large concentration of South African immigrants – should serve as an example for successful absorption, which includes supporting families and lone soldiers.
Telfed Chairman Maish Isaacson noted that the organization also assists immigrants from Australia and Holland and provides immigrants with subsidized rental housing. Telfed CEO Dorron Kline mentioned that 235 Jews immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 2015; 155 arrived from Australia, and another 55 made Aliyah from Holland. Fifty-five of those who immigrated to Israel from these countries were lone soldiers. Kline further told the committee members that while a decade ago some 90% of the Jews who were leaving South Africa relocated to the United States and Australia, today some 50% of South African Jews who leave their home country immigrate to Israel.
Shaul, a new immigrant who resides in an absorption center in Ra’anana, said he and his family left South Africa “because we wanted our children to grow up in a Jewish and Israeli atmosphere.”
“We can see the change that our children have undergone in the year since we made aliyah, and this is helped by the community’s embracing atmosphere,” he added.
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) urged Telfed to increase the activities for lone soldiers.