From the Jewish Agency:
THE JEWISH AGENCY HOSTS OLIM FAREWELL RECEPTIONS, ESTIMATES 15% INCREASE IN ALIYAH FOR 2009 FROM NORTH AMERICA
The Jewish Agency for Israel hosted Aliyah farewell receptions in New York Washington DC, Boston, and San Francisco for members of the community who will be immigrating to Israel this summer; farewell receptions will be held in July in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto.
The Jewish Agency estimates that 2009 will see an increase of 15% in the number of North Americans immigrating to Israel. A 12% increase has already been documented for the first third of 2009 (January through April) compared with the same period in 2008. The summer months generally see the largest numbers of olim.
Across the country, Jewish Agency Aliyah Shlichim are hosting farewell receptions, in partnership with Nefesh B’Nefesh, local community Federations and the Israeli consulates to honor those who will be moving to Israel this summer as new immigrants.
At the event in New York, attended by over 200 olim Sunday (June 14), several participants spoke of their personal journey which brought them to the decision that now was the time to move. In San Francisco, the soon-to-be new immigrants were individually recognized at the annual Israel in the Garden festival for northern California. In Washington DC, an event with nearly 100 was held at the Embassy of Israel.
The economic situation was a factor for many in the timing of aliyah, contributing to the rise this year in the number of olim, according to Liran Avisar, head of the Jewish Agency Aliyah delegation to North America. “These are people who always had the dream of making aliyah, and if they have to start now from the beginning, they want build their lives in Israel.”