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4,000 US immigrants moved to Israel in 2021, the highest annual figure since 1973

27,050 people in all made the Jewish state their new home this year, up 30% from the year before but still below pre-COVID numbers

New immigrants from North America arrive on a special aliyah flight arranged by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 14, 2019. (Flash90)
New immigrants from North America arrive on a special aliyah flight arranged by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion International Airport on August 14, 2019. (Flash90)

A total of 27,050 new immigrants arrived in Israel over 2021, representing a 30 percent increase over the previous year’s particularly low figures, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh announced Wednesday.

The new arrivals included 4,000 immigrants from the United States, the highest figure since 1973 and a 30 percent rise over last year. Another 400 immigrants arrived from Canada, bringing the total number of immigrants from North America in 2021 to over 4,400, the figures showed.

France saw a 40% leap, with 3,500 arriving, the highest number in four years. There were 7,500 immigrants from Russia, a 10% increase from 2020, and 3,000 from Ukraine this year, up 5%.

Other countries also saw an increase, with 900 arriving from Argentina — 55% more than last year — 630 from the UK, 550 from South Africa, 550 from Brazil and 280 from Mexico.

The figures also showed that 1,636 immigrants from Ethiopia came to Israel as part of “Operation Zur Israel,” which has renewed the immigration of Jews from the country after a years-long hiatus.

Overall, immigration rose by 30% this year compared to 2020, though it remains below the annual figures recorded in the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illustrative: New immigrants from North America arrive on a flight arranged by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization at Ben Gurion Airport, on August 14, 2019. (Flash90)

The total figure matched that of 2016. In 2017 there was a slight climb to 29,000 and that continued into 2018 with 30,000, reaching a record of 35,000 in 2019. However, with the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions it caused to international travel, numbers tumbled.

In 2020 there were just 22,000 who moved to Israel to start a new life there.

Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata welcomed the new figures, praising the contribution Jewish immigrants have made to Israeli society.

“Aliyah continues to break records. Despite the pandemic and its limitations, Aliyah to Israel did not stop and we’re happy to welcome tens of thousands of immigrants who chose to make Aliyah this year,” she said. “Immigrants are an incredible growth engine for the Israeli economy and are a national, economic and moral powerhouse for the nation.”

Tamano-Shata has attributed the rise in immigration to improvements her ministry has made in removing obstacles to immigration, the digitalization of the process, and better cooperation with consulates abroad.

The national campaign to encourage immigration, called Israeli Horizons, has a budget of NIS 35 million ($11.4 million).

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