Photo Credit: Shahar Azran
The Karoly family packing up in New York before making Aliyah to Israel. March 2020

Aliyah (immigration to Israel) continued in the past weeks with 961 immigrants arriving in Israel since the beginning of the month, despite the global Coronavirus crisis and the closure of borders and skies in many countries.

The latest group of Olim, 72 Ethiopian immigrants from the Falash Mura community, landed in Israel on Tuesday morning.


In accordance with the government’s decision, anyone who holds a valid visa to immigrate to Israel is entitled enter Israel under the Law of Return, even though the borders are currently closed to foreign nationals.

However, the Ministry of Health has instructed that all Olim enter a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to ensure they are not infected with Corona.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Yoav Galant stated Tuesday that “the State of Israel is the home of every Jew anywhere. Even these days, we are continuing to absorb Aliyah.”

The 72 Ethiopian immigrants who arrived on Tuesday are slated to arrive at the Beit Alfa absorption center in the north of the country, but before that, they will spend two weeks in isolation in a hostel prepared for them in the vicinity of their new homes.

Falash Mura are members of the Beta Israel Jewish community in Ethiopia who converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some were forced to do so. Some have since returned to Judaism.

Former Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef declared in 2002 that the Falash Mura had converted out of fear and persecution and therefore should be considered Jews.

On Sunday evening, a group of 26 Russian Jewish immigrants sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) arrived on a flight from St. Petersburg and immediately went into a two-week self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 threat. This flight marks the 30th anniversary of the ICEJ’s sponsorship of Jewish families making Aliyah from the former Soviet Union.

The year 2019 saw a peak in Aliyah, with 34,872 Jews coming to Jewish State, a 20% increase over the 29,800 that came in 2018, and while many things have come to a complete halt in wake of the spread of Corona, Aliyah persists.

Israel welcomed more than 255,000 Olim from 150 different countries in the past decade.

Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, 3.3 million people have made Aliyah, making up 42 percent of the total population.


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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.