The year 2014 had some very newsworthy occurrences. Civil war took place in Ukraine and continued in Syria; the Palestinians tried to proclaim a state via the UN and failed; a plane went missing; the world played soccer; Hamas used tunnels in order to attack Israel; allied combat operations in Afghanistan ended; Scotland decided not to change the English flag; Ebola spread across the world; Boko Haram kidnapped young girls and forced them to convert to Islam in order to marry them; a new terrorist country was declared and the US began airstrikes against it; and best of all, over 26,500 Jews returned to their homeland in Israel.
2014 was the largest influx of Jews to Israel in over 10 years. For the first time ever, France had the highest number of ex-patriots move to the Holy Land. Nathan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, said that “This is a year of record-breaking Aliyah. I very much hope the next government continues to invest in Aliyah.”
Following France, the next largest population of Jews came from the Ukraine, where immigration to Israel rose by 190 percent following the violence that is continuing to take place in that country.
One of the more unique group of Jews to make aliyah were members of the Bnei Menashe from India who hail from the lost tribe on Menashe. Laura Ben-David, spokesman for the Israel Returns organization responsible for bringing the Bnei Menashe to Israel, told Breaking Israel News that in 2014, over 650 members of the lost tribe returned to their homeland of Israel.
“2014 was a record year for Bnei Menashe aliyah and truly, it is nothing short of a modern-day miracle,” she said. “The determination of these people to return to Israel after 2,700 years in exile is inspiring and it is an honor and privilege to help them make their way home”
The Jewish Agency announced the historic numbers as part of their year end summation on Wednesday. They reported that the country saw a rise of some 32 percent in immigration over the previous year’s tally. Sharansky proudly exclaimed the news for all to hear.
“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,” Sharansky said, predicting “further increases in Aliya from around the world” and calling on the government to maintain “Aliya encouragement and immigrant absorption as top priorities.”
The spike in immigration to Israel came in spite of Operation Protective Edge, where majority of the country come under threat of rocket attacks from Gaza for the first time. One undaunted French immigrant told reporters over the summer, “Even if Israel is burning, we will be there.”
Over half of the new immigrants were under the age of 35. including some 5,300 children and some 8,200 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. The eldest immigrant this year was born in 1910 and made Aliyah from France at the age of 104. The youngest came from the United States and was only several weeks old.
Some 2,500 of the immigrants work in engineering and technological fields, and thousands hold degrees in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and exact sciences. More than 1,000 doctors and health professionals made Aliyah, as did some 600 artists and athletes. In November, the Government of Israel approved a series of recommendations aimed at breaking down barriers to employment for immigrants and ease their integration into the workforce.
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofia Landver said; “We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world – and even more.”