Within the past year, almost 18,000 Jews made aliyah to Israel. Out of this number, twenty percent were from Russia; seventeen percent were from the United States; and fourteen percent were from Ethiopia. Some 2,030 Jews also made aliyah from the Ukraine, while 1,853 Jews made aliyah from France. Jews also made aliyah from smaller countries, such as Honduras, Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, Monaco, and Andorra. The oldest immigrant out of the group was a 100-year-old man named Moses Lederman.

For Moses, this was not the first major move of his life. He was born in 1912 in Poland and immigrated to Brazil at the age of 18. Moses has three children, who all are living in Israel. He also has seven Israeli grandchildren and six Israeli great-grandchildren. Moses has sought to move to Israel ever since his wife passed away two years ago. He asserted, “I’m only sorry that I didn’t come to Israel earlier on, but its better late than never. For me this is a dream come true.” So far, his favorite aspect of life in Israel is Shabbat. Moses proclaimed, “It gives off a feeling of sanctity and tranquility. In Brazil, Saturday just feels like any other day.”

Interestingly, Operation Pillar of Defense did not deter prospective Olim from making aliyah. “Everything that’s happened […] has only made me want to be in Israel more,” says 22-year-old Lee Douber, who plans to move to Israel from New Jersey this month. According to Yael Katsman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, if olim were running at all, often it was to volunteer for the IDF: “We had a group of citizens from outside the country come to our offices who needed our help overcoming a bureaucratic issue. They were trying to get to volunteer in their former army units.”

Indeed, despite the security challenges that Israel faces, Katsman asserted that the number of Jews making Aliyah is rising and this trend is expected to continue in 2013. What sets the Jewish olim to Israel apart from people that immigrate to other western nations is that they are ideologically committed to living the Zionist dream and for many Jewish olim this outweighs whatever security risks are associated with life in Israel.

Thus, thanks to the commitment of Jews around the world to make Aliyah and to an increased Jewish birthrate, the Israeli Bureau of Statistics has asserted for the new year that there are now six million Jews living inside Israel, an emotional number for Jews around the world. Jews make up 75.4 percent of the Israeli population, while 20.6 percent are Arabs and four percent are Christians. In the beginning of January 2013, the total Israeli population stands at 7,981,000, 1.8 per cent higher than the previous year.

By Rachel Avraham

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