More Russian Jews than French Jews immigrated to Israel last year, but the overall number of immigrants making Aliyah to the Jewish state fell compared with 2015, the Israeli government said on Thursday.
In 2016, a total of 27,000 people immigrated to the Jewish state against 31,000 in the previous year, the Immigration Ministry said in a statement, representing a 13% decline in the overall rate of immigration.
Around 7,000 newcomers were from Russia compared with 5,500 from Ukraine and 5,000 from France, which had seen a record number of Jews leave for Israel in the previous two years.
The French Jewish community is the biggest in Europe and is thought to number around 500,000 people.
But a series of attacks targeting the community — including the 2006 kidnapping and brutal anti-Semitic killing of a young Jewish and the assaults on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris two years ago — precipitated departures for Israel. Problems in finding employment, a natural occurrence when immigrating to a new country, have frustrated some of the arrivals, although in contrast to some past aliyah waves, social integration has been smooth.
Last year also saw 2,900 immigrate to Israel from the United States, while hundreds others came from Brazil, Britain, Belarus and South Africa.
The head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, said Israel must do more “to find solutions to efficiently integrate” the newcomers, including by finding them jobs and recognizing their diplomas