French Jews arrive on Aliyah in Israel. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Aliyah France

The largest group of French Jews for 2017 just landed in Israel and are happily calling it home. 

200 French Jews arrived in Israel on Monday aboard a special Aliyah (immigration) flight organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and Keren Hayesod-UIA.

Upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, the immigrants were greeted in a special ceremony by Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver and other officials.

This is the largest flight of Olim from France or anywhere else in Europe to land in Israel this summer.

The new Israelis include 74 children and teenagers under the age of 18. The youngest Oleh is two and a half months old, immigrating with her parents and sibling, while the oldest is a 92-year-old widower, who made Aliyah with his daughter and her husband.

The immigrants have chosen to live in Netanya, Jerusalem, Raanana, Ashdod, Netivot, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and elsewhere throughout the country. Several young professionals will join the Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion absorption program in Jerusalem.

The French Jewish community is the largest in Europe and, after the US, the second largest in the world outside of Israel, numbering nearly half a million Jews.

French Jewish immigration to Israel has surged since the year 2012, breaking records for Aliyah from France and from Western countries in general. The year 2014 marked the first time in Israel’s history that over 1 percent of a Western Jewish community made Aliyah in a single year, an achievement repeated in 2015, with the arrival of some 7,800 immigrants from France – the highest number ever.

Over 10 percent of the French Jewish community has immigrated to Israel since the year 2000, half in the past five years alone.

Some 200,000 French Jews have expressed interest in making Israel their new home. An estimated 5,000 new immigrants came from France in 2016, of approximately 27,000 immigrants that arrived in Israel during that year.

In response to this unprecedented demand from French Jews, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have developed a special plan to facilitate Aliyah from France and ease French Jewish immigrants’ integration into Israeli society. The plan includes efforts to educate young French Jews on Jewish culture and history, help them experience Israel in a variety of programs, provide them with comprehensive Aliyah information and counseling, remove barriers to employment, and increase the number of Jewish Agency Shlichim (representatives) in France.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel