The increase in Aliyah is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis in Brazil, but is also rooted in the Brazilian Jewish community’s strong ties to Israel.
Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Brazil has seen a dramatic increase in 2016, with some 700 immigrants expected to arrive in Israel by the end of the year. This number is more than three times the annual average of approximately 200, and marks a 45-year record in Brazilian Aliyah, which last reached similar numbers in the 1970’s.
“The Brazilian Jewish community is a warm, Zionist community with strong ties to Israel,” said Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, who is visiting Brazil to survey Jewish Agency activities in the country and meet with the local Jewish community.
“Since Israel’s establishment, more than 15,000 Brazilian Jews have immigrated to Israel, contributing to the Jewish state’s national character and strength.” Sharansky noted.
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of Jewish young people from Brazil who have arrived in Israel to participate in Israel experience programs through Masa Israel Journey.
The head of the Jewish Agency delegation in Brazil, Revital Poleg, pointed out that Aliyah from the country has been steadily increasing. The increase in Aliyah is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis in that country, but is also rooted in the Brazilian Jewish community’s strong ties to Israel, she said.
“Many of the immigrants note that they view Israel as a place where they can lead Jewish lives in an environment that feels like home,” said Poleg, adding that the immigrants come from relatively strong backgrounds. “Some seventy percent of the immigrants are young families who want to provide their children with high-quality education, or young people looking to start university studies in Israel and build their careers there.”
The 700 new arrivals from Brazil in 2016 mark a significant increase compared to the 496 immigrants who arrived in 2015 and the 280 who arrived in 2014. Similar Aliyah figures from Brazil were last seen in 1971, when some 594 Brazilian immigrants arrived in Israel.
According to figures presented by the Confederação Israelita do Brasil (CONI), the umbrella organization of Brazilian Jewry, the Jewish community of Brazil numbers approximately 120,000, is the second largest in Latin America after Argentina, and the fifth-largest in the world.
The Jewish Agency’s activities in Brazil take place in partnership with CONIB and centers on strengthening Brazilian Jews’ connections to Israel, developing young leadership, building Israel experience programs for the community’s youth, preparing candidates for Aliyah, and developing specialized Aliyah tracks for different groups.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News