Joining thousands of brethren from around the globe who have decided to return home to Israel, Jews from Brazil have begun moving to the Jewish state in greater numbers. Welcome home!

Tens of newcomers from Brazil landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday, March 14 and were greeted with a festive Purim-themed reception organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption (MAIA).

The immigrants hail from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Manaus, and are a cross-section of Brazilian Jewry, including young parents interested in raising their children in Israel, parents looking to reunite with children who have already called Israel their home, a young man who will pursue a doctorate in environmental studies at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, a senior orthopedist who will join Israel’s healthcare system, and a trained chef who will be joining Israel’s burgeoning restaurant scene. The immigrants will be making their homes in cities and towns across Israel.

Sharp Increase in Aliyah from Brazil

The Jewish community of Brazil is the second-largest in Latin America, with some 120,000 Jews, most of whom reside in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre.

According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency and the MAIA, Aliyah from Brazil has risen sharply in recent years: 2015 saw the arrival of some 500 immigrants from Brazil, a 70% increase compared to the 300 who arrived in 2014 and more than double the 210 who came in 2013.

The Head of the Jewish Agency delegation in Brazil, Revital Poleg, notes that the Jewish community of Brazil maintains strong ties to the State of Israel. Between 65% and 70% of the immigrants are young singles and couples and families under the age of 45. Most immigrants from Brazil seek to lead Jewish lives in Israel, where they feel safe and at home, and many also wish to reunite with family members who have already immigrated to Israel.

Other factors contributing to the current increase in Aliyah include the ongoing economic crisis in Brazil, a prevailing sense of personal insecurity, and uncertainty regarding the future.

Poleg estimates that the increase in Brazilian Aliyah will continue in 2016 and notes that more than 1,000 Brazilian individuals have already started the Aliyah process through The Jewish Agency’s Global Service Center.

Soft Landing in Israel

The immigrants arriving in Israel today will enjoy a full range of services offered by the MAIA, including personalized absorption programs, employment assistance, Hebrew education, assistance in opening businesses, and so on, with an emphasis on personal, customized service for each immigrant, which are provided to any Jew who decides to return home to Israel.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel