(JNS.org) Jewish immigration to Israel reached a 10-year high in 2014 with the arrival of 26,500 new immigrants.
According to year-end figures from The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, 2014 saw a 32 percent rise in immigration over last year’s number of approximately 20,000 immigrants.
2014 also marked the first time France was the top country for immigrants, with nearly 7,000 immigrants in 2014, more than doubling the 3,400 in 2013. France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, has been plagued by increasing anti-Semitism. As a result, the Israeli government has stepped up efforts to encourage French immigration such as streamlining the absorption process as well as recognizing education and job qualifications of French immigrants.
"2014 was a year of record-breaking Aliyah,” Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency stated. “This year also saw a historic shift: for the first time in Israel's history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress,” he said.
Additionally, there was a 190 percent increase in immigration from Ukraine, with 5,840 new immigrants, compared to only 2,020 in 2013. The dramatic increase is largely the result of ongoing political instability in that country related to tensions between the Ukrainian government and Russia.
Other areas that saw modest gains in immigration in 2014 were from North America, where there were 3,870 new immigrants compared to 3,600 in 2013. This included approximately 3,470 from the United States and 400 immigrants from Canada.