France is Israel’s largest source of aliyah for 2nd straight year
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France is Israel’s largest source of aliyah for 2nd straight year

(JTA) — For the second consecutive year, France is the largest provider of Jewish immigrants to Israel with a record total of 7,328 newcomers in 2015.

The number of French citizens who immigrated to Israel under its law of return for Jews, or made aliyah, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1 constituted a 10 percent increase over the 6,661 French olim who came during the corresponding period last year, according to Jewish Agency for Israel figures obtained Tuesday by JTA. In all of 2014, a total of 7,238 olim came from France.

Last year’s total, which was the highest since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, was surpassed last month with the arrival of 468 French Jews. According to the Jewish Agency, French aliyah has increased because of a mix of factors, including the community’s fear of anti-Semitic attacks, economic stagnation in France and its members’ attachment to Israel.

The most dramatic increase in aliyah this year came from Russia, which provided more than 6,000 olim in the first 11 months of 2015 — some 44 percent over the 4,458 who came in the corresponding period last year. In total, slightly more than 5,000 came from Russia last year.

Russian aliyah increased following a financial crisis last year that halved the ruble’s value against the dollar and amid lingering concerns among Russian Jews over rising nationalism and undemocratic practices, according to Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Aliyah from Ukraine, which is also suffering from a financial recession following a bloody revolution last year and the secession of two pro-Russian eastern enclaves, increased to 6,848 people this year compared to the 6,149 who came in all of 2014.

The United States has provided Israel with 2,730 olim this year compared to 2,940 in the corresponding period last year.