More than 200 French Jews, half of whom are children, arrived in Israel Tuesday aboard a special Aliyah flight organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
Although the plane arrived in the wee hours of the morning, the immigrants were warmly received at a festive welcome event at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The current wave of Aliyah from France comes following cooperative efforts by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency to sustain the high rate of French Aliyah and increase Aliyah from around the world.
More than 20,000 French Jews—primarily young people and families—have made Israel their home over the past five years.
Over 7,200 French Jews made Aliyah in 2014 – an all-time record, and the first time since Israel's establishment that more than 1% of a Western country's Jewish population immigrated to the country in a single year.
Netanya or bust
The coastal city of Netanya is the number one destination for French immigrants to Israel, followed by Tel Aviv-Yafo, Jerusalem, Ashdod, and Ra'anana.
According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived in Israel so far this year, an 11% increase compared to the 3,830 who came during the equivalent period in 2014.
Moreover, interest in Aliyah from France has jumped by some 30%: 3,160 new Aliyah files were opened in France during the first six months of 2015, compared to some 2,509 during the same period last year.
Registration for Aliyah information sessions reached 6,150, compared to 4,425 during the equivalent period in 2014.
"This plane with 200 immigrants from France is just one of many arriving in Israel this summer," Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) stated. "This is the second year in a row that we are seeing a significant increase in Aliyah from France, and so the ministry and the entire government are working to further increase the rate of Aliyah and dedicate more resources to improving immigrant absorption."
"This year we are preparing to receive between 30,000 and 35,000 immigrants from around the world, the most in a decade."
"Over the past two years, The Jewish Agency has significantly expanded its operations in Europe in response to increasing interest in Aliyah on the part of European Jews," Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, added. "We are seeing an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from European countries, which indicates not only how Europe is becoming an uncomfortable place for Jews, but—even more importantly—the extent to which Israel is becoming a magnet for Jews interested in a meaningful Jewish life, in freedom, personal security, and a sense of belonging to a country that is integral to the future of the Jewish people."