Aliyah – Immigration of Jews to Israel

Let’s look at the facts. The population growth of Palestine/Israel is striking. In 1915 there were just 83,000 Jews but this increased to over 6 million Jews in 2013, link, corresponding to an amazing 7400% increase! In comparison, over the same period the UK population increased just 55%. We can see this as a pretty unusual growth of a young nation, or as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, as in:

Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone … and bring them into their own land (Ezek 37.21)

Waves of Immigration

Aliyah Jewish Immigration

New immigrants to Israel, 2007. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The immigration of Jews to Israel (Hebrew: Eretz) from all over the world is widely known as “aliyah”. In historical terms it is a relatively recent phenomenon. It’s as though Ezekiel’s prophecy has just been implemented after lying dormant for thousands of years! Since the end of the 19th century there have been a number of waves of immigration, often initiated by severe political and social unrest. Most of the early immigrants to Israel/Palestine were young halutzim (pioneers), who built roads and towns and commenced the draining of marshes. Their ideology contributed a great deal to the reconstruction of Israel.

The so-called “first aliyah” (1882 to 1903) was a wave of about 30,000 Zionist immigrations mostly from Eastern Europe and the Yemen. Another wave of about 40,000 Jews came between 1919 and 1923. This was triggered by the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe, the British occupation of Palestine, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

Aliyah Jewish immigration

Jewish immigration after 1950. Enlarge

Between 1929 and 1939 some 225,000 to 300,000 Jews arrived from Europe and Asia. This wave of immigration began as a pioneering one, but with the onset of racial persecution in Nazi Germany attained the character of a mass migration between 1933 and 1939. Large-scale waves of immigration from Arab countries took place in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, primarily from Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Some 260,000 Jews immigrated despite the necessity of leaving their property behind, link.

The Law of Return: In 1950, Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) passed the Law of Return, link, which essentially gave every Jew the right to go and settle in Israel and gain automatic citizenship. This Law opened up Israel to Jews from over 60 countries. The graph shows that this gave a huge boost to immigration in the early 1950’s. The Law of Return was amended in 1970 to clarify the term “Jew” and the application of the Law to family members, link.

Aliyah: Prophecy being Fulfilled

Just as a father leads his little child, so God is leading His people back to Israel. For a time rebellious Israel was forsaken by God and they were scattered (like dry bones) amongst the nations. But Ezekiel the prophet saw a valley of dry bones that became alive as God brought His people back to their own land.

In these last days God is reaching out to His people and wants to blot out their sin and unite them with Himself. He is calling His people out from the nations, back into their own land, the land of Canaan. Jews call this ingathering or mass immigration back to their own land ‘aliyah’ or ‘ascent’. It has been underway now for over 100 years, drawing in some 8 million people. The Gentile nations cannot help but see an amazing thing: a nation restored almost overnight. It is a very clear sign that the God of Israel is working in the world! Today, Israel is back in their homeland and is becoming an increasing witness of God to the nations:

He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:12)

Today, Zionist organizations like The Jewish Agency and WZO continue to oversee aliyah, immigration, settlement and education. This is Israel’s official network of organizations that help returning Jews get installed in Israel. Between 1989 and 2010, more than 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union (FSU) made their home in Israel, but there are still many to aliyah. In 2013 the estimated Jewish Population of the FSU totaled 1.71 million, of which there were 600,000 in Russia itself, link. As of 2015, there were still 1.4 million Jews in Europe despite a sharp decline over recent decades, link, and in 2013 there were still over 4 million practicing Jews in the US, link.


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