Photo Credit: SL
L-R: Ze'ev Gershinsky, vice president NBN, Absorption Minister Pnina Tamani-Shata, Ronen Cohen - Director -General of the Aliyah and Absorption Ministry

Aliyah surged in 2021, with the 27,050 new arrivals from across the globe representing a 30 percent increase over the previous year’s 21,820 olim (immigrants), according to statistics released Wednesday (Dec. 22) by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and Nefesh B’Nefesh.

All the data is based on information as of December 20, 2021 and estimated arrivals through the year’s end. Some numbers may be adjusted after December 31, 2021, officials said.

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This past year brought a record-breaking 4,000 olim from the United States, who arrived in Israel with the assistance of Nefesh B’Nefesh. This immigration from the US constituted a 30 percent increase over 2020 and the highest annual number of olim from the USA since 1973.

The Ministry of Aliyah and The Jewish Agency both told JewishPress.com that they will look into reports of difficulties Americans have been having with the application process, adding that the pandemic created unprecedented challenges for them to deal with.

Another 400 olim arrived this year from Canada, bringing the expected total of olim from North America in 2021 to over 4,400.

The Aliyah numbers also show a 40 percent jump in immigration from France this year compared to 2020, with the arrival of 3,500 olim, the highest number of arrivals from that country in the last four years.

Elsewhere around the world, Aliyah figures for 2021 included 7,500 olim (new immigrants) from Russia this year, an increase of 10 percent from 2020; 3,000 olim from Ukraine, up 5 percent; and 1,636 immigrants from Ethiopia as part of Operation Zur Israel, which is expected to renew soon and reunite the new olim with their relatives in Israel after decades of waiting.

Other significant sources of Aliyah this year include 900 olim from Argentina, an increase of 55 percent over last year and the highest number of immigrants from that country since 2003; 650 olim from the United Kingdom, an increase of 22 percent over 2021; 550 olim from Brazil; 550 olim from South Africa, a dramatic increase of 72 percent, particularly in comparison with figures from the last decade; and 290 olim from Mexico, a 55 percent increase.

The growing popularity of Aliyah among the younger generation continued as well, as 55 percent (14,620 olim) of all this year’s olim were under the age of 35. Further, 16.5 percent of olim were ages 36-50; 13.6 percent were 51-64; and 14.7 percent were 65 and older.

The city welcoming the most olim in 2021 was Tel Aviv, where 2,870 immigrants chose to make their new home, followed by Jerusalem, with 2,760 arrivals, Netanya with 2,710, and Haifa with 2000. Other cities where new olim arrived in 2021 included Ashdod (940), Bat Yam (920), Raanana (880), Beit Shemesh (860), Nahariya (825), and Be’er Sheva (750).

This year also brought olim with diverse professional backgrounds, including over 1,100 doctors and paramedical professionals who will join the Israeli health system; 1,670 olim from the fields of technology and engineering; 960 from the fields of accounting and law; and 750 educators.

Aliyah is facilitated by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency, together with Nefesh B’Nefesh, Ofek Israeli, The Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and friends of Israel from around the world.

“Aliyah continues to break records,” Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Pnina Tamano-Shata, noted.

“Despite the pandemic and its limitations, Aliyah to Israel did not stop and we’re happy to welcome tens of thousands of olim who chose to make Aliyah this year. Olim are an incredible growth engine for the Israeli economy and are a national, economic and moral powerhouse for the nation.”

“We are thrilled to see a sharp increase, of tens of percentage points, in Aliyah from countries such as the U.S., France, Argentina, the U.K., South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and more,” said Yaakov Hagoel, Acting Chairman of The Jewish Agency.

“Growing interest in Aliyah continued this year, with The Jewish Agency’s Global Aliyah Center, which provides Aliyah information throughout the day in six languages, opening almost 32,000 new Aliyah files. However, the best is yet to come – we haven’t yet maximized on the potential Aliyah.”

“After an incredibly challenging year, we celebrate each and every oleh who made the courageous move and overcame the many difficulties and ever-changing factors over the last year and made Aliyah,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

“The resounding interest in Aliyah that we witnessed in 2020 has borne fruit this past year, translating into an actual surge in Aliyah. As we look to 2022, our organization’s 20th year, we are excited about the future of Aliyah and look forward to helping thousands more North Americans realize their Zionist dreams.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.