North American Immigration Hits Highest Level Since 1983

NEW YORK - The immigration rate from North America this year is the highest it has been since 1983, according to the Jewish Agency: More than 3,100 North Americans will have moved to Israel by the end of 2005.

In addition, a study conducted by pollster Mina Tzemach found that 93 percent of American immigrants questioned for the survey were satisfied (49 percent) or very satisfied (44 percent) with their absorption in Israel.

The statistics were prepared ahead of an El Al flight carrying 202 North American immigrants to Israel that leaves tomorrow from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The Nefesh B'Nefesh flight will be the seventh one from North America this year. The flight was organized by the Jewish Agency as well as Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that facilitates immigration, assists immigrants financially and helps them find work in Israel.

A Nefesh B'Nefesh official said yesterday that of the 3,100 North Americans classified as immigrants this year, some 300 were already living in Israel when they changed their status.

Michael Landsberg, the executive director of the Jewish Agency's North American Aliyah Delegation, told Haaretz yesterday that 2005 is the third year running that has seen a consistent increase in the number of North American immigrants to Israel.

The vast majority of the people arriving on this week's flight, which is set to land at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, have post-secondary degrees, and two-thirds are younger than 35, said Landsberg.

The central factor in immigrants' satisfaction with their immigration is employment, according to the research conducted by Tzemach, who examined the reactions of immigrants and their assessments of their absorption process.

According to the study, 50 percent of immigrants who have found jobs in their profession are very satisfied, compared to a satisfaction rate of 41 percent among those who are working out of their profession.

The study also showed that 64 percent of immigrants cited friends and family in Israel as having helped them in their absorption here, while 59 percent cited their Jewish Agency immigration emissary and 39 percent cited Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Most of the people who immigrate to Israel through Nefesh B'Nefesh are between the ages of 35 and 54 and are married with small children.