(Hebrew) 1. "Going Up;"
2. Refers specifically to immigration to Israel or the holy land, a term in use since the
dispersion of the Jews or before, and referred to in the book of Ezra 1 .
3. One of several waves of immigration (Aliyot
) in modern Zionist history.
About 400,000 Jews in all (after accounting for emigrants) immigrated to Israel in the five
pre-state Aliyot and
In the first three years of its existence, Israel took in over 500,000 new immigrants.
These included displaced persons (DPs) who had survived the Nazi Holocaust and were concentrated in camps in Europe,
awaiting permission to immigrate during the mandate period, about 49,000 Yemenite Jews (most of the Jewish population of
Yemen) brought over in operation magic carpet and 114,000 Iraqi Jews who fled Iraq in Operation Ezra and Nehemia. The
total number of immigrants in those three years was nearly as great as the Jewish population of Israel. Israel was still
fighting a war in 1948, and had no money to house these immigrants and no employment opportunities. Immigrants lived in
tents and afterwards for many years were housed in Ma'abarot
- transit camps with poor housing, sanitation and other facilities. To finance the immigration, the government
instituted a draconic rationing system, the tzena, supervised by finance minister Dov Yosef, the same man who had
organized the rationing system in Jerusalem during the War of Independence. Immigrants from Arab countries, who had no
relatives in Israel and nobody from their countries in high government positions, suffered most. The poverty and
hardship of this period left bitter memories for many, but the Aliyot
secured Israel as a viable state with a reasonable population size, and helped to generate the highest economic growth
rate in the world for well over a decade.
More recent mass immigrations included the Jews of Ethiopia and Russian Jews. About 14,000
Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in the Operation Solomon air-lift in 1991, while others trekked through Africa to
reach transit points. A small trickle of Soviet Jews had been allowed into Israel over the years. The collapse of
communism in the USSR brought a mass immigration - about 100,000 Jews came to Israel from the countries of the former
Soviet Union each year for a decade. This immigration has slowed to a trickle because the remaining Jews in those
countries are not interested in immigration, and because of the worsening security situation in Israel since 2000.
Other immigrations - Israel took in about 30,000 Persian Jews after the collapse of the
regime of the Shah, as well as large proportions of the Egyptian and Moroccan Jewish communities, Kurdish and Turkish
Jews, Indian Jews and Jews from every country in Europe and the American continent, South Africa and Australia. Small
numbers of refugees from Vietnam and Bosnia were also given refuge and homes in Israel, and there are plans to accept
Sudanese Muslim refugees as well.
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
immigration to Israel, Aliyah