December 27, 2006
Natan Feder, left, (2) and his sister Bat-Sheva Feder, right, (3)
wait for their flight at JFK International Airport. Natan and Bat-Sheva
are on the last flight of immigrants for the year which marks
largest number of arrivals of North American Jews in the last
24 years of immigration. Photo: DAVID KARP
By CAMILLA M. BUTCHINS
A plane carrying 220 olim from North America and UK will arrive Wednesday bringing the total amount of Jews who made aliyah in 2006 to 21,000, the Jewish Agency said Wednesday.
The flight will complete a total of seven aliyah flights from North America this year, in participation with the Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) organization, who also bought three planes of olim to Israel during the Lebanon War. Wednesday will also see the 10,000th NBN oleh arrive in Israel.
10,000th Nefesh oleh to arrive
According to figures released by the Jewish Agency, immigration from the West is on the rise: the number of olim from North America was 3,074 as opposed to 3,052 olim last year. 2,900 Jews made aliyah from France this year as opposed to 3,005 last year, which was a record amount of olim in 34 years.
Aliyah from the UK reached 720 in 2006, a record amount over the past 22 years. Russia had 7,300 immigrants in 2006, a decrease of 23% from last year, although Russian Jews still make up a majority of olim in Israel. In addition, 1,450 South American olim and 3,600 olim from Ethiopia chose Israel as their new home in 2006.
Also, for the first time ever, in a special operation, 220 Jews from "Bnei Menasheh tribe" from India made aliyah.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Ze'ev Bielski said: "I am happy the war in the north did not damage neither the aliyah nor the amount of visitors to Israel. After the few hard years we experienced, I am sure that the improvement in the security and economical situation will enhance the feeling of security and together with the new strategy of the "Immigration Through Choice" plan which the Jewish Agency executes, the number of olim and visitors to Israel will only increase."
2006 also sees a record in the number of youths participating in long and short term educational programs in Israel. Altogether 49,000 youths will have come to Israel this year.