More than 200 French Jews will land in Israel on Wednesday morning to make the Jewish state their new home. Theirs is the largest expected group from that country to make aliyah over the summer.
The flight was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel, in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and Keren Hayesod-UIA. Significantly more Jews immigrate during the summer in order to allow their children an easy acclimation and to begin the school year in their new environment.
Upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, the new immigrants will be greeted by Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Minister of the Interior Aryeh Machlouf Deri, and Chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA Eliezer ‘Modi’ Sandberg.
The French Jewish community is currently the largest in Europe and the second-largest in the world outside of Israel, numbering just under half a million Jews. That may change as France is now the number one source of origin for new olim (immigrants to Israel). Last year, 7,800 French Jews made aliyah. Since the year 2000, nearly 10 percent of the French Jewish community has immigrated to Israel, with half of that amount in the past five years alone.
Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, himself an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, said, “French Jews who immigrate to Israel are coming out of choice: they have a whole world of opportunities before them, and they are choosing to come to Israel. Their choice demonstrates that Israel affords a sense of Jewish identity and attachment to those Jews who wish to take an active part in the Jewish story.”
Minister of Absorption Sofa Landver welcomed the new immigrants, expecially amid the recent rise in Islamic terror in France. “In light of the difficult weekend in Nice, I wish to welcome the immigrants from France who chose to immigrate to Israel now. French aliyah strengthens Israel, and the Government of Israel works tirelessly to ease their absorption.”
Also involved in aiding France’s Jews to make Israel their permanent home is the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). Among its many activities, the IFCJ works tirelessly to bring Jews to Israel from dangerous areas, such as war-torn Ukraine. The recent escalation in terrorist attacks and anti-Semitism in France led the Fellowship to extend the initiative to French Jews. In late June, the Fellowship organized their first flight from France, bringing 82 Jews to Israel.
The organization is intimately familiar with Islamic terror in France. The IFCJ was holding a meeting for Jews planning to make aliyah in Nice on Thursday, one block away from where the terror attack took place at the same time of the incident.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, chairman and founder of IFCJ, emphasized the connection between increasing anti-Semitism in France and aliyah in his reaction to the attack in Nice.
“Sadly, this horrific attack underscores the pressing need to help bring as many Jews who wish to leave France to their homeland in Israel, and this is what we will continue to do,” Rabbi Eckstein said in an interview with Algemeiner.