One hundred and fifty new Olim (immigrants) gathered this week at the Mount Kanub Farm in southeastern Gush Etzion for a “pioneering” event, planting trees, working in the vineyards, feeding sheep and working the soil with their hands.
Gush Etzion is a bloc of 24 Jewish communities south of Jerusalem. The farm is located close to the community of Pnei Kedem, whose shepherds safeguard Israel’s state lands by grazing the area.
The event was organized and sponsored by the Gush Etzion Regional Council’s Immigration and Absorption division, whose mandate is to encourage and assist immigration to Israel.
“The connection between the new immigrants and the pioneering work being done at the farm was amazing. These are people who left everything behind and came to connect to the Land of Israel,” said Gush Etzion Mayor and chairman of the Yesha Council Shlomo Ne’eman. The Yesha Council is the umbrella organization of all the local authorities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
“We wanted them to feel the soil and experience the work being carried out on the farm, alongside other immigrants who are going through similar experiences in their new Gush Etzion homes. As someone who has worked on behalf of aliyah for many years, I feel that we as a country need to absorb as many of our Jewish brothers and sisters as possible here in Gush Etzion, and in all of Israel,” he added, using the Hebrew word for immigration.
Earlier this year, Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration named Gush Etzion in Judea as a top 10 destination for new immigrants, as part of a list geared towards helping immigrants choose a place to live when setting up stakes in the Jewish state.
The ministry published the list of suggested communities on its website — in six languages — based on municipalities that provide the most assistance with integration into Israeli society.
Gush Etzion region offers immigrants Hebrew language classes, organizes gatherings, events and trips, and has a committee in place to welcome new residents.
Some 70,000 people from 95 different countries immigrated to Israel in 2022 with the assistance of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.
It was the highest number of immigrants in 23 years, and a dramatic increase from the previous year. Amidst international travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, 28,600 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2021.