Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Outgoing and current heads of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky (L) and Isaac Herzog at Ben Gurion airport, July 23, 2018.

Ministry of Absorption officials in Israel report that in the past few weeks, no less than 60,000 Israelis living abroad have express an interest in returning home soon. “There is an awakening among Israelis living abroad,” they said.

Jewish Agency Chairman Yitzhak Herzog told Makor Rishon on Thursday that he anticipated “a great wave of immigration to Israel when the coronavirus crisis ends, as has happened historically in Jewish communities around the world after many crises since the establishment of the state.”

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Herzog called on the Israeli government and other parties to prepare as soon as possible for an aliyah wave, and put together a well-organized plan for a massive absorption effort for the new immigrants.

“The coronavirus crisis is paralyzing the Jewish communities’ establishment, and the Jewish agency is doing its best to help communities in need, through the emissaries in the field and also through a special loan fund we have set up with Keren Hayesod and JFNA to help them financially,” Herzog said.

“These communities regard Israel’s functioning in fighting the virus in the midst of a global crisis, and they see a robust, relatively well-functioning state,” Herzog said. “And I get a lot of reactions from around the world.”

Zev Gershinsky, VP of the aliyah and absorption group Nefesh B’Nefesh, told Makor Rihon: “Indeed, there has been movement in the Jewish communities since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, and the topic of aliyah has been contemplated by many.”

“In April alone, about 300 aliyah forms were submitted to the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices, and more than 400 people have begun the aliyah process,” Gershinsky said. “We are prepared for all possible scenarios and are able to accompany everyone who is interested: tens, hundreds and thousands.”

Interest in aliyah to Israel has been recorded in Jewish communities where the number of Jews who died from the coronavirus is high. In the UK, for example, about 500 people expressed an interest in aliyah over the past month alone. Normally, the average annual number of olim from the UK is only about 700.

It appears that many British Jews believe that Israel was better prepared than Britain for the Corona war. They have a positive opinion about the Israeli health system, which is under attack inside Israel. The coronavirus epidemic is expected to last a long time, so they are considering seeking shelter in Israel more seriously than ever before.

In France, about a thousand families are waiting to immigrate to Israel.

In the former Soviet Union, aliyah files for 40,000 local Jews and their close relatives have been opened this year, even before the pandemic’s outbreak. Now, aliyah officials expect even more cases.

In 2019, about 35,000 people immigrated to Israel, which set a record for the entire decade. Aliyah sources say as many as 40,000 will arrive by the end of 2020, not including the projected 60,000 returning Israelis.

“If this data are correct, about 100,000 Israelis and Jews from around the world may arrive in Israel in the coming year,” the same officials believe.

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