Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, Feb. 20, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Ukrainian olim

Israel absorbed 60,000 immigrants over the course of the outgoing Jewish year.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

Israel absorbed 60,000 olim over the course of the outgoing Jewish year, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata said on Monday. The number is the highest rate of aliyah in 20 years and is a 128 percent increase over last year.

The ministry, which released its year-end numbers on aliyah, noted that it expects to absorb another 4,000 olim by the end of 2022.

According to the Ministry, 47 percent of this year’s olim came from Russia. The next largest group of immigrants came from Ukraine (25%), followed by the U.S. (6%), France (4%) and Ethiopia (2%).

The rise in numbers is attributed to several factors, primarily Russia’s war in Ukraine, redoubled efforts to complete the airlift of Ethiopian Jews, and international travel bouncing back after the COVID pandemic.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, 39,214 olim have arrived from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova, the countries most directly impacted by the war. To streamline their immigration, the ministry launched Operation Olim Come Home.

The numbers come against the backdrop of Russian moves to shut down the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental organization that facilitates aliyah. Moscow accuses the Agency of violating privacy laws. Israeli officials believe the crackdown is political, in response to Israeli support for Ukraine.

The ministry also said that Operation Tzur Yisrael airlifted 3,500 Ethiopian Jews, and that it expects that figure to reach 5,000 by the end of 2022. Efforts to complete the aliyah of Ethiopia’s Jewish community were bogged down by political and financial issues, and by the COVID pandemic. This year’s arrivals made for emotional scenes at Ben Gurion Airport as families were reunited.

Tamamo-Shata said she is still working to help 300 Jews in trapped by a civil war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

In a boost for the Israeli economy, 63% of the olim were of working age, with 27% between 18-35 years old and 21% age 36-50.