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Israel received a record 70,000 new Jewish immigrants in 2022, the highest in 23 years, from 95 different countries, but mostly from Russia and Ukraine.
The record number of “olim chadashim” (Jewish immigrants) also represents a dramatic increase over 2021, when 28,600 new Jewish immigrants settled in Israel, according to figures released today by the Jewish Agency, an entity dedicated to facilitating this process known as “aliyah.”
This year, the vast majority of the new immigrants – who avail themselves of the Law of Return on the basis of their Jewish roots – come from Russia and Ukraine, an exodus motivated by the war between the two countries, as well as the increasing repression under the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin.
Between January 1 and December 1, 37,364 “olim” arrived in Israel from Russia and 14,680 from Ukraine; in addition to 3,500 from the USA; 2,050 from France; 1,993 from Belarus, 1,498 from Ethiopia, 985 from Argentina, 526 from Great Britain, 426 from South Africa and 356 from Brazil.
Some 27% are young people between 18 and 35 years of age; 24% are children and adolescents; 22% are between 36 and 50 years of age; 14% are between 51 and 64 years of age; and 13% are over 65 years of age.
Given the influx of newcomers this year, the Jewish Agency plans to establish a new model of “open absorption centers” where young “olim” will live in the same building and benefit from community support services.
In addition, 2,180 emissaries were sent to Jewish communities in 65 countries around the world to strengthen Jewish identity and the bond with Israel, working mainly on university campuses and educational centers.
Although Russia is the country that has sent the most Jewish emigrants to Israel, the Jewish Agency has suffered serious difficulties in carrying out its work from there, suspended in recent months in the face of the Putin government’s attempts to expel it from the country.
Russia’s move would be in retaliation for Israel’s alignment with Western powers in the war in Ukraine and its expressed support for the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of that country, much to the anger of Moscow, with whom it maintains a geostrategic alliance in Syria.
The Jewish state is already home to a large Russian-speaking community of around 1.2 million people. These are people who arrived from countries of the former Soviet Union after its collapse, since the 1990s.