Israel surpasses America as most populous Jewish center in the world

The largest concentration of Jewish people, more than 6.5 million, live in Israel, compared with 5.7 million in the United States.

By: World Israel News Staff

The largest concentration of Jewish people, more than six million, live in Israel, compared with 5.7 million living in the United States, Aliyah and Integration Minister Sofa Landver told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Monday.

Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise praised the Aliyah Ministry’s achievements and said Israel’s mission was to bring all of the world’s Jews back home.

Landver attributed her ministry’s success to cooperation with the Jewish Agency, organizations that assist olim (new immigrants) and local authorities.

“We invest a lot in encouraging Aliyah, we hold fairs in the countries of origin, offer potential immigrants personal accompaniment and assistance in their job search, studies and housing,” she said.

The past year has seen a significant surge in the number of Jews immigrating to Israel, as well as the return to Israel of many former residents.

“We are working to reduce administrative obstacles, and we’ve increased the number of languages available in service centers,” Landver told the committee. “We’ve also seen an increase in the number of olim who settle in the Negev and Galilee.”

Some 24 percent of all new immigrants, 6,917 people, settled in these regions in 2017, compared with 4,307 new immigrants who settled there in 2016.

Increase in support for immigrants

The ministry also increased assistance for entrepreneurs and has seen a rise in the number of businesses opened by olim, as well as a significant drop in delinquency among teenage new immigrants.

Director General of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration Alex Kushnir emphasized that Israel is now home to the world’s largest Jewish community, followed by the US, France, the UK, Ukraine, and Russia, among others.

Since 2013, there has been a dramatic increase in immigration from the former Soviet Union.

Over the past year, 76,000 individuals eligible for aliyah made contact with ministry.

About 70,000 young olim arrived in Israel over the past decade, and a significant increase has been recorded since the establishment of the Ministry’s Youth Division.

In addition, the ministry instituted preparatory programs for the IDF, ensured the provision of monthly financial assistance to about 5,000 olim, increased the number of olim who are in institutions of higher education (in 2016 – 6,735 students, and in 2017 6,901), and provided training courses for employment and work placement, with 84 percent of the olim who participated in the placement courses already working and 66 percent employed in their professions.

Of 245,235 olim who arrived in Israel over the past 10 years, 29,228 made aliyah in 2017, of whom 7,239 are returning residents.