Aliyah (Hebrew: עלייה Translit.: Aliya Translated: "ascent") is the immigration of Jews to Eretz Israel. It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology, and a value in almost all movements of Judaism. The opposite action, Jewish emigration from Israel, is referred to as Yerida ("descent").
Religious, ideological and cultural concept
Aliyah is widely regarded as an important Jewish cultural concept and a fundamental concept of Zionism that is enshrined in Israel's Law of Return, which accords any Jew (deemed as such by halakha and/or Israeli secular law) and eligible non-Jews (a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew), the legal right to assisted immigration and settlement in Israel, as well as automatic Israeli citizenship. Someone who "makes aliyah" is called an oleh (m. singular) or olah (f. singular); the plural for both is olim. Many Religious Jews espouse aliyah as a return to the Promised land, and regard it as the fulfillment of God's biblical promise to the descendants of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Aliyah is included as a commandment by some opinions on the enumeration of the 613 commandments.
In Zionist discourse, the term aliyah (plural aliyot) includes both voluntary immigration for ideological, emotional, or practical reasons and, on the other hand, mass flight of persecuted populations of Jews. The vast majority of Israeli Jews today trace their family's recent roots to outside of the country. While many have actively chosen to settle in Israel rather than some other country, many had little or no choice about leaving their previous home countries. While Israel is commonly recognized as "a country of immigrants", it is also, in large measure, a country of refugees.
According to the traditional Jewish ordering of books of the Bible, the very last word of the Bible (i.e. the last word in the original Hebrew of verse 2 Chronicles 36:23) is veya‘al, a jussive verb form derived from the same root as aliyah, meaning "let him go up" (to Israel).
Mass return to the Land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish prayers recited every day, three times a day, and holiday services on Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with the words "Next year in Jerusalem." since Jews are members of both a nation and a religion, aliyah (returning to Israel) has always had both a secular and a religious significance. In all historical periods during which return to the Land of Israel was possible, Jewish groups and individuals have immigrated back to the Jewish homeland.
For generations of religious Jews, aliyah was associated with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, who was to redeem the Land of Israel from gentile rule and return world Jewry to the land under a Halachic theocracy.
The Bible relates that the Jewish patriarch Abraham came to the Land of Canaan with his family and followers in approximately 1800 BC. His grandson, Jacob, went down to Egypt with his family, and after centuries there, they went back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua, entering it in about 1250 BCE.
After the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, approximately 50,000 Jews returned to Israel following the Cyrus Proclamation of 538 BCE. The Jewish priestly scribe Ezra led about 50,000 Israelite exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem in 459 BC. Others returned throughout the era of the Second Temple.
In late antiquity, the two hubs of rabbinic learning were Babylonia and Israel. Throughout the Amoraic period, many Babylonian Jews immigrated to Israel and left their mark on Israeli life, as rabbis and leaders.
In the 10th century, leaders of the Karaite Jewish community, mostly living under Persian rule, urged their followers to settle in Eretz Yisrael. The Karaites established their own quarter in Jerusalem, on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. During this period, there is abundant evidence of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Jews from various countries, mainly in the month of Tishrei, around the time of the Sukkot holiday.
The number of Jews returning to the Land of Israel rose significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421) and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492) were seen by many as a sign of approaching redemption and contributed greatly to the messianic spirit of the time.
|Aliyah 1948–2000: by numbers and by source.|
Aliyah was also spurred during this period by the resurgence of messianic fervor among the Jews of France, Italy, the Germanic states, Poland, Russia and North Africa. The belief in the imminent coming of the Jewish Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel encouraged many who had few other options to make the perilous journey to the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).
Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 "aliyah of the three hundred rabbis" and their descendants. It is thought that few survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229 and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer, added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed.
The messianic dreams of the Gaon of Vilna inspired one of the largest pre-Zionist waves of immigration to Eretz Yisrael. In 1808, hundreds of the Gaon's disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed, and later formed the core of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem. This was part of a larger movement of thousands of Jews from countries as widely spaced as Persia and Morocco, Yemen and Russia, who moved to Israel beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century - and in even larger numbers after the conquest of the region by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1832 - all drawn by the expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in the Jewish year 5600, English year 1840, a movement documented in Arie Morgenstern's Hastening Redemption.
There were also those who like the British mystic Laurence Oliphant tried to lease Northern Palestine to settle the Jews there (1879).
Zionist Aliyah (1882 on)
First Aliyah (1882–1903)
Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority, belonging to the Hovevei Zion and Bilu movements, came from the Russian Empire with a smaller number arriving from Yemen. Many established agricultural communities. Among the towns that these individuals established are Petah Tikva (already in 1878), Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pina, and Zikhron Ya'aqov. In 1882, the Yemenite Jews settled in an Arab suburb of Jerusalem called Silwan located south-east of the walls of the Old City on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.
Second Aliyah (1904–1914)
Between 1904 and 1914, 40,000 Jews immigrated mainly from Russia to Palestine following pogroms and outbreaks of anti-semitism in that country. This group, many of whom were infused with socialist ideals, established the first kibbutz, Degania, in 1909 and formed self-defense organizations, such as Hashomer, to counter increasing Arab hostility and to help Jews to protect their communities from Arab bandits. The suburb of Jaffa, Ahuzat Bayit, established at this time, grew into the city of Tel Aviv. During this period, some of the underpinnings of an independent nation-state arose: The national language Hebrew was revived; newspapers and literature written in Hebrew published; political parties and workers organizations were established. The First World War effectively ended the period of the Second Aliyah.
Third Aliyah (1919–1923)
Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews, mainly from the Russian Empire arrived in the wake of World War I, the British conquest of Palestine; the establishment of the Mandate, and the Balfour Declaration. Many of these were pioneers, known as halutzim, trained in agriculture and capable of establishing self sustaining economies. In spite of immigration quotas established by the British administration, the population of Jews reached 90,000 by the end of this period. The Jezreel Valley and the Hefer Plain marshes were drained and converted to agricultural use. Additional national institutions arose: The Histadrut (General Labor Federation); an elected assembly; national council; and the Haganah.
Fourth Aliyah (1924–1929)
Between 1924 and 1929, 82,000 Jews arrived, many as a result of anti-semitism in Poland and Hungary. The immigration quotas of the United States kept Jews out. This group contained many middle class families that moved to the growing towns, establishing small businesses and light industry. Of these approximately 23,000 left the country.
Fifth Aliyah (1929–1939)
Between 1929 and 1939, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new wave of 250,000 immigrants arrived, the majority of these, 174,000, arrived between 1933–1936, after which increasing restrictions on immigration by the British made immigration clandestine and illegal, called Aliyah Bet. The Fifth Aliyah was again driven mostly from Eastern Europe as well as professionals, doctors, lawyers and professors, from Germany. Refugee artists introduced Bauhaus (Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of Bauhaus architecture in the world) and founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. With the completion of the port at Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the predominantly agricultural economy. The Jewish population reached 450,000 by 1940.
At the same time, tensions between Arabs and Jews grew during this period, leading to a series of Arab riots against the Jews in 1929 that left many dead and resulted in the depopulation of the Jewish community in Hebron. This was followed by more violence during the "Great Uprising" of 1936–1939. In response to the ever increasing tension between the Arabic and Jewish communities married with the various commitments the British faced at the dawn of World War II, the British issued the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 people for five years. This served to create a relatively peaceful 8 years in Palestine while tragically The Holocaust unfolded in Europe.
Aliyah Bet: Illegal immigration (1933–1948)
The British government limited Jewish immigration to Palestine with quotas, and following the rise of Nazism to power in Germany, illegal immigration to Palestine commenced. The illegal immigration was known as Aliyah Bet ("secondary immigration"), or Ha'apalah, and was organized by the Mossad Le'aliyah Bet, as well as by the Irgun. Immigration was done mainly by sea, and to a lesser extent overland through Iraq and Syria. Beginning in 1939 Jewish immigration was further restricted, limiting it to 75,000 individuals for a period of five years after which immigration was to end completely. The British made it illegal to sell land to Jews in 95% of the Mandate. During World War II and the years that followed until independence, Aliyah Bet became the main form of Jewish immigration to Palestine.
Following the war, Berihah ("flight"), an organization of former partisans and ghetto fighters was primarily responsible for smuggling Jews from Poland and Eastern Europe to the Italian ports from which they traveled to Palestine.
Despite British efforts to curb the illegal immigration, during the 14 years of its operation, 110,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine.
In 1945 reports of the Holocaust with its 6 million Jewish dead, caused many Jews in Palestine to turn openly against the British Mandate, and illegal immigration escalated rapidly as many Holocaust survivors joined the Aliyah.
Early statehood (1948–1950)
After Aliyah Bet, the process of numbering or naming individual aliyot ceased, but immigration did not. A major wave of immigration of over half a million Jews went to Israel between 1948 and 1950, many fleeing renewed persecution in Eastern Europe, and increasingly hostile Arab countries.
This period of immigration is often termed kibbutz galuyot (literally, ingathering of exiles), due to the large number of Jewish diaspora communities that made aliyah. However, kibbutz galuyot can also refer to aliyah in general.
Aliyah from Arab countries
In the course of Operation Magic Carpet (1949–1950), nearly the entire community of Yemenite Jews (about 49,000) immigrated to Israel. Most of them had never seen an airplane before, but they believed in the Biblical prophecy that according to the Book of Isaiah (40:31), God promised to return the children of Israel to Zion on "wings".
In three and a half years, the Jewish population of Israel had doubled, inflated by nearly 700,000 immigrants, which was one of the causes of the austerity. Huge numbers of Jewish refugees were temporarily settled in "cities of tents" called Ma'abarot. As the residents were gradually absorbed into Israeli society, the Ma'abarot were phased out.
Many Israeli immigrants were Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who left Arab countries to move to Israel. In many of these cases they had been persecuted and sometimes forced to leave their homes. 114,000 Jews came from Iraq in 1951 in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.
Aliyah from Iran
The massive airlift known as Operation Moses began to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel on November 18, 1985 and ended on January 5, 1986. During those six weeks, some 6,500–8,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown from Sudan to Israel. An estimated 2,000–4,000 Jews died en route to Sudan or in Sudanese refugee camps.
Since that time, Ethiopian Jews have continued to immigrate to Israel bringing the number of Ethiopian-Israelis today to over 100,000.
Aliyah from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states
|Year|| Exit visas|
| Olim from|
A mass emigration was politically undesirable for the Soviet regime. The only acceptable ground was family reunification, and a formal petition ("вызов", vyzov) from a relative from abroad was required for the processing to begin. Often, the result was a formal refusal. The risks to apply for an exit visa compounded because the entire family had to quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offense. Because of these hardships, Israel set up the group Lishkat Hakesher in the early 1950s to maintain contact and promote aliyah with Jews behind the Iron Curtain.
In the wake of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, the USSR broke off the diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in the state-controlled mass media and the rise of Zionology were accompanied by harsher discrimination of the Soviet Jews. By the end of 1960s, Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union had become practically impossible, and the majority of Soviet Jews were assimilated and non-religious, but this new wave of state-sponsored anti-Semitism on one hand, and the sense of pride for victorious Jewish nation over Soviet-armed Arab armies on the other, stirred up Zionist feelings.
After the Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair and the crackdown that followed, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities to increase the emigration quota. In the years 1960–1970, the USSR let only 4,000 people leave; in the following decade, the number rose to 250,000. Many of those allowed to leave to Israel chose other destinations, most notably the United States. In 1989 a record 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR, of whom only 12,117 immigrated to Israel. Since the dissolution of the USSR, over one million Soviet Jews have immigrated to Israel. See The collapse of the Soviet Union and Jewish immigration to Israel and Jackson-Vanik amendment.
In the 1999–2002 Argentine political and economic crisis that caused a run on the banks, wiped out billions of dollars in deposits and decimated the country's middle class, most of Argentina's estimated 200,000 Jews were directly affected. Some chose to start over and move to Israel, where they saw opportunity.
More than 10,000 Jews from Argentina immigrated to Israel since 2000, joining the thousands of previous olim already there. The crisis in Argentina also affected its neighbour country Uruguay, from which over 500 Jews made aliyah in the same period. During 2002 and 2003 the Jewish Agency for Israel launched an intensive public campaign to promote aliyah from the region, and offered additional economical aid for immigrants from Argentina. Although the economy of Argentina improved, Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, albeit in smaller numbers than before.
From 2001 to 2005, 11,148 Jews made Aliyah from France, including a 35-year high in 2005, with 3,300 immigrants. With the start of the Second Intifada in Israel, anti-Semitic incidents became more frequent in France. In 2002, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme (Human Rights Commission) reported six times more anti-Semitic incidents than in 2001 (193 incidents in 2002). The commission's statistics showed that anti-Semitic acts constituted 62% of all racist acts in the country (compared to 45% in 2001 and 80% in 2000). The report documented 313 violent acts against people or property, including 38 injuries and the murder of one person with Jewish Maghrebin origins by Muslims. Since 2005, the number of acts dropped but is still at a significantly higher level than during the previous decade.
North American Aliyah
There are approximately 110,000 North American immigrants in Israel. There has been a steady flow of olim from North America since Israel’s inception in 1948. Record numbers arrived in the late 1960s after the Six-Day War, and in the 1970s. Many immigrants began arriving in Israel after the First and Second Intifada, with a total of 3,052 arriving in 2005 — the highest number since 1983. Like Western European olim, North Americans tend to immigrate to Israel more for religious, ideological and political purposes, and not financial ones. Nefesh B'Nefesh, founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, works to encourage Aliyah from North America and the UK by providing Hebrew Language assistance for potential olim, streamlining the process already offered by the Jewish Agency and Israeli Government. A group of students at Brandeis University founded ImpactAliyah in 2007 to support campus communities of student pre-olim and run pilot trips to Israel.
From the 1990s
Since the mid 1990s, there has been a steady stream of South African Jews, American Jews, and French Jews who have either made aliyah, or purchased property in Israel for potential future immigration. Specifically, many French Jews have purchased homes in Israel as insurance due to the rising rate of anti-Semitism in France in recent years.
The Bnei Menashe Jews from India, whose recent discovery and recognition by mainstream Judaism as descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes is subject to some controversy, slowly started their Aliyah in the early 1990s and continue arriving in slow numbers.
Organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh and Shavei Israel help with aliyah by supporting financial aid and guidance on a variety of topics such as finding work, learning Hebrew, and assimilation into Israeli culture.
In early 2007 Haaretz reported that aliyah for the year of 2006 was down approximately 9% from 2005. They state that: "Only 19,264 people immigrated to Israel in 2006, down nine percent from 2005. It is the lowest number of immigrants recorded since 1988"
The number of new immigrants in 2007 was 18,127, the lowest since 1988. Only 36% of these new immigrants came from the former Soviet Union (close to 90% in the 90's) while the number of immigrants from countries like France and USA is stable.
The number of immigrants to Israel during 1919–2006 period is given in the table below. The table details the number of olim for the specific time periods by country of birth. (For the year 2006, the last country of residence is also given).
|Region||2006 LCR||2006 COB||2005||2000–2004||1990–1999||1980–1989||1972–1979||1961–1971||1952–1960||1948–1951||1919–1948||TOTAL|
- ↑ "Aliyah". Answersd. answers.com. 2008-08-02. http://www.answers.com/topic/aliyah.
- ↑ "ץראב םתושרתשהו א"רגה ידימלת". ץראב םתושרתשהו א"רגה ידימלת. http://www.daat.ac.il.+2008-08-02. http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/mahanaim/hagra.htm.
- ↑ "עליית החסידים ההמונית לא"י". ץראב םתושרתשהו א"רגה ידימלת. http://www.daat.ac.il.+2008-08-02. http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/mahanaim/aliyat-2.htm.
- ↑ The Jerusalem Cathedra: Studies in the History, Archaeology, Geography and Ethnography of the Land of Israel, "Aliya from Babylonia During the Amoraic Period (200–500 CE)", Joshua Schwartz, pp.58–69, ed. Lee Levine, 1983, Yad Izhak Ben Zvi & Wayne State University Press
- ↑ The Jerusalem Cathedra: Studies in the History, Archaeology, Geography and Ethnography of the Land of Israel, "Aliya and Pilgrimage in the Early Arab Period (634–1009)", Moshe Gil, 1983, Yad Izhak Ben Zvi & Wayne State University Press
- ↑ "יהדות הגולה והכמיהה לציון, 1840–1240". Tchelet. http://www.tchelet.org.il.+2008-08-02. http://www.tchelet.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=263&search_text=.
- ↑ The Messiah brought the first immigrants http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/941834.html
- ↑ Morgenstern, Arie: Hastening Redemption: Messianism and the Resettlement of the Land of Israel Published in Hebrew, 1997, Jerusalem, Ma’or; Published in English, 2006, Oxford University Press
- ↑ "The Real Israel Aliyah". Akiva M. Tripod. 2008-08-02. http://members.tripod.com/realaliyah/.
- ↑ "Moving to Israel?". Jacob Richman. jr.com. 2008-08-02. http://www.jr.co.il/aliyah/.
- ↑ .http://www.transferagreement.com/
- ↑ "Aliyah". mfa. mfa.gov.il. 2008-08-02. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2002/10/Aliyah.
- ↑ (Russian) Евреи диаспоры в наши дни[dead link] (Jews of diaspora today)
- ↑ ИСТОРИЯ ИНАКОМЫСЛИЯ В СССР (The History of Dissident Movement in the USSR) by Ludmila Alekseyeva. Vilnius, 1992 
- ↑ "Aliyah". ronnaliyah. Blogspot.com. 2008-08-02. http://www.ronnaliyah.blogspot.com/.
- ↑ "Step By Step Making A life In Israel". olehgirl. olehgirl.com. 2008-08-02. http://olehgirl.com/.
- ↑ Article in the Jewish Week
- ↑ USATODAY.com - As attacks rise in France, Jews flock to Israel
- ↑ French Jews invest in old Tel Aviv neighborhood - Israel Money, Ynetnews
- ↑ "Nefesh B Nefesh". nbn.com. 2008-08-02. http://www.nbn.org.il.
- ↑ Aliyah sees 9% dip from 2005 by Moti Bassok
- ↑ 
- ↑ http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton58/download/st04_04.xls
- Ben-Gurion, David From Class to Nation: Reflections on the Vocation and Mission of the Labor Movement (Hebrew), Am Oved (1976)
- Jewish Agency for Israel Aliyah from all over the world since 1948
- Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah from North America & The United Kingdom
- Moving to Israel - The Complete Resource Guide
- Aliyaing.com A helpful guide on aliyah and its challenges written by olim for olim
- ISRAEMPLOY - Israel Aliyah Job List & Employment information
- NOAM - Informations about Aliya Israel from German spreaking Countries
- "Aliyah" - the word and its meaning
- Dispersion and the Longing for Zion, 1240–1840, by Arie Morgenstern
- Aliyah - Moving to Israel - Resource Directory
- ImpactAliyah advocating Aliyah as a means to make a positive impact.
- Kumah, a self-described "Neo-Zionist" group, calling for mass aliyah of American Jews.
- Aliyah, aliyah website including articles, interviews, blog and information, hosted by Laura Ben-David, author of MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal
- Volunteer in Israel for wildlife and community programs
- Israel tries to increase immigration
- Yossi Klein Halevi, The Historic Significance of American Aliya September 2003.
- Israel Focus-Migration