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U.S. immigration to Israel drops 13 percent

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Immigration to Israel rose slightly in 2013 to 19,200, but that included a significant drop in immigrants from the United States.

Last year Israel absorbed 18,940 new immigrants.

The most dramatic increase in aliyah came from France, with 3,120 immigrants, a 63 percent increase over the previous year. The Jewish Agency for Israel credited its own programs to introduce French young people to Israel for the rise. Israel’s Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and the Jewish Agency are set to introduce new programs next year to ease the immigration and absorption process and make it easier for Israelis residing in France to return to Israel, the Jewish Agency said in a statement.

Some 2,680 immigrants arrived in Israel from the United States in 2013, compared to 3,070 in 2012, a 13 percent decline. Canada sent 321 immigrants, compared to 319 last year. The countries of the former Soviet Union sent Israel 7,520 immigrants, compared to 7,629 last year. Some 1,240 immigrants came to Israel from Latin America in 2013, a 34 percent increase over last year’s 926.

The new immigrants to Israel were younger than in the past, with 60 percent under the age of 35, including 37 percent between the ages of 18 and 34. The oldest immigrant was a 103-year-old man from the United States. The youngest was a 5-week-old American baby.

Some 2,400 new immigrants chose to settle in Jerusalem; 1,650 moved to Tel Aviv, according to the Jewish Agency.

“The 2013 data proves that more and more Jews around the world realize that Israel is their home,” Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver said. “Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy, and I hope aliyah continues to increase.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said, “This is an era of aliyah by choice, rather than aliyah of rescue, and so it is important that we continue the Jewish Agency’s efforts to strengthen the young generation’s Jewish identity and deepen their connections to Israel.”

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