North American Jews making aliyah
For Jews who live in predominantly wealthy western countries, Israel is at best a holiday destination, not a place to live. Photo by Nir Keidar
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The number of immigrants to Israel rose during the Jewish year 5770 for the second successive year, reaching 17,880, an increase of 18 percent over last year's figures collated by the Jewish Agency.

The past two years of increased aliyah broke an eight-year downturn in numbers of immigrants.

As in 2008-2009, immigrants hail mainly from well-off countries, led by the U.K., the United States and Canada. The largest number of immigrants from Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s arrived this year - 220.

Immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe numbered 7,340, a 16 percent increase over last year. Some 1,360 immigrants arrived from Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries. Approximately 1,320 new arrivals were from Ethiopia, as opposed to only 130 the year before, due to the change in the government's policy allowing Falashmura to come into the country.

Immigrants also came from Thailand, Hong Kong, New Caledonia, Japan, Tunisia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Angola and Uganda, the Jewish Agency said.

"The increase is particularly exciting considering the campaign of delegitimization against Israel throughout the world these days. Every immigrant is a bridge between his community in the Diaspora and his old-new homeland, Israel," Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said.