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  • New immigrants from North America arrive on a special " Aliyah Flight" on behalf of Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, at Ben Gurion airport in central Israel on August 15, 2018. | Photo by Yehuda Haim/Flash90
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Jews Returning Home

editor - 8 January 2019

The following infographic shows how many Jews live around the world according to official figures. It also contains an overview of how many Jews went to Israel in the past decade. For 2017 we specified the number of Jews leaving from certain countries. These figures do need some explanation.

Massive Return?
There were times when Jews from around the world went to the Promised Land in great numbers. One such time was shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel. Jews living in Arab countries no longer felt safe to remain after the Arab world turned against Israel and numerous Jewish communities in Arab lands. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a stream of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Israel. The communist regime had forbidden them for years to emigrate, and now their long-cherished wish could finally be fulfilled. The influx of new immigrants in the last ten years may seem a bit meagre compared to those times.

Official Figures
Official figures are always controversial. An exact count is just impossible. Take Ukraine for example. According to ‘official figures’ the country still has 53,000 Jews. If 7,000 return on a yearly basis, it would mean that after 2025 there will be no Jews left. However, the Jews in Ukraine suspect that there are more ‘hidden Jews’ in the country. Many Ukrainians and their Jewish ancestors, hid their origin or even forgot it in fear of pogroms, or in fear of the communist regime which forbade any form of religion.

Twelve Tribes
Then there are the twelve tribes, known as the ‘Jews’. They descend mainly from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, who formed the kingdom of Judah in the Bible. The kingdom of Israel however, was led into exile in the time of the kings. The tribes of the former kingdom of Israel are known as the ‘ten lost tribes’. However recently there is convincing evidence that descendants of at least one such tribe, Bnei Menashe, have been located in Northern India. Many of those descendants are now making aliyah back to Israel. Evidence is emerging that descendants of other tribes of Israel have been identified in various places around the world. Whoever reads the biblical promises, understands that the Lord will bring all twelve tribes back to the Promised Land. We are not there yet. But it does create anticipation.

 

Sources: Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Jewish Agency, jewishvirtuallibrary.org

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