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Aliyah to Israel

June 2, 2023 638 Time to read: 13 min.

Welcome to an in-depth exploration of the concept of Aliyah and its significance within the context of Judaism. In this article, we will delve into the meaning of Aliyah, the process of making Aliyah, and its importance in the Jewish community. Whether you are considering Aliyah yourself or simply seeking to expand your knowledge, this article will provide valuable insights into this timeless practice.

What is Aliyah

The Jewish people lost their state for centuries, and Jews lived in different parts of the world. Today, the state of Israel exists again, and every person who has confirmed his Jewish ancestry can return to his historic homeland.

Understanding Aliyah

The repatriation of Jews to Israel is aliyah, which literally means “ascent”. It is noteworthy that the emigration of Jews from the state of Israel also has its own name and meaning, yerida, which means “descent,” “condescension”.

If you can just come to Canada or Spain, you have to go to Israel as if you were on a spiritual height.The word “aliyah” is used in a lofty sense when talking about moving.

This emphasizes the special significance of Israel to the Jewish people. Thus, in Hebrew, Israel is called “Arez,” while other countries are called “Eretz”. So don’t be surprised when you make your aliyah if you are asked anything about “Arez”. It is exclusively about Israel, which is clear to any Jew.

Who’s eligible to make Aliyah to Israel?

According to Israel’s Law of Return, anyone who has at least one Jewish grandparent, or who has converted to Judaism from any other religion, is eligible to make Aliyah and become a citizen of Israel. Additionally, spouses, children and grandchildren of Jews are also eligible for Aliyah.

The right of repatriation is granted to a Jew and his descendants up to and including the third generation:

  • Jew (according to the “Law of Return” a person whose mother is Jewish);
  • Children of a Jew;

  • Spouses (including widows/widowers) of Jews, children of Jews, grandchildren of Jews;
  • The grandchildren of a Jew.

Those who are eligible for Aliyah may receive assistance with their immigration and resettlement in Israel through various programs and organizations. Overall, Aliyah is a significant part of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and is an option available to those who meet the eligibility criteria.

Note that a Jew loses the possibility of obtaining Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return if he has converted to another religion. A person who hides this fact during repatriation can be deprived of Israeli citizenship. Non-religious people, however, are allowed to be repatriated.

The Historical roots of Aliyah

The Historical Roots of Aliyah in Jewish TraditionJewish aliyah practically never ceased. Only at certain periods did it become massive or, on the contrary, significantly diminished. The aliyah became active in the middle of the 13th century, associated with the return of the French and Spanish missionaries.

By the beginning of the fourteenth century they were joined by immigrants from Germany, Italy, and even Africa. From the middle of the nineteenth century, people from Morocco and Eastern Europe began to actively immigrate to the Israel.

There are five main waves of aliyah to Israel:

  • The first – The Declaration of Independence of Israel (1948) proclaims that the newly created state is open to the repatriation of Jews throughout the world. The Israeli government considers itself responsible for the fate of Jews throughout the world and, above all, for ensuring that every Jew, wherever he may live, can exercise his right to aliyah. The legal framework for this right is the Law of Return, adopted by the Knesset on July 5, 1950.
  • The second – In the years of mass aliyah after the formation of the state, operations were carried out to relocate entire Jewish communities into the country (Iraq’s “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” and Yemen’s “Operation Magic Carpet”). The Knesset, the government, and the public have led the struggle for the right to aliyah in countries where the authorities prevent the free departure of their Jewish citizens. Thus, the years-long fight for the right of Soviet Jews to leave the Soviet Union back in the late 1960-70s was a considerable success: under pressure from international public opinion, the Soviet authorities were forced to allow about a quarter of a million Jews to leave the country.
  • The third – Since the 1980s Israel has provided repatriation assistance to Jews in Ethiopia, Argentina, France and other countries. Israel not only appeals to Jews in the Diaspora to repatriate and facilitates repatriation itself, but also provides comprehensive assistance to new repatriates.

From the declaration of Israel’s independence until the end of 2003, 2,950,000 people repatriated to the country. The Jewish communities of Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, to a large extent Morocco, as well as Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia repatriated to Israel in almost full numbers, thus ending the ancient centers of the Jewish Diaspora.

The Aliyah Law

The Law of Return was adopted by Israel’s Knesset on July 5, 1950 and aims to encourage Jews from around the world to return to their ancestral homeland. It consists of four articles outlining the rules of repatriation.

The Law of Return

The law has been around for over 70 years and has been amended several times. In 1970, a definition of who can be considered a Jew was added, along with updates to the list of eligible citizens. This made it possible for Jews, their children and grandchildren, and their spouses to obtain Israeli citizenship.

In 1999, a clarification was made regarding foreign spouses of Israelis. These citizens can only obtain Israeli passports through a naturalization process, with repatriation only possible if the marriage was registered before Israeli citizenship was acquired. Furthermore, the non-Jewish spouse is only eligible for citizenship upon repatriation if the marriage is over a year old at the time of consular examination.
The acquisition and loss of Israeli citizenship is regulated by the Citizenship Law of April 1, 1952.

According to the law, a passport can be obtained in the following ways:

  • By birth;
  • By naturalization;

  • By marriage to an Israeli;
  • By proof of Jewish origin.

In addition, there is a section in the document which states that anyone can obtain Israeli citizenship at the discretion of the Minister of Interior and under certain conditions. Citizenship can be granted to individuals who have contributed to Israel’s security or to the economic development of the state.

The Aliyah process

The process of making aliyah to Israel is the easiest way to move there. The Law of Return, established in 1950, makes it possible for Jews, their children and grandchildren, and those who have undergone legal conversion to Judaism, as well as Jewish widows/widowers, to obtain Israeli citizenship. If you qualify, you can get on the list for aliyah and we can assist with the repatriation process.

You can apply for aliya while on a tourist visa in Israel or in your country of residence.

  • In the second case, you need to go to the embassy and write an application for consular verification. After that you need to collect all the necessary documents, which may vary depending on the specific situation. The process of each case for Israeli citizenship is different, be prepared for this.
  • Pass the consular check successfully. If the fact of belonging to the Jewish people is established, the applicant and his family receive a repatriation visa. The period of validity of such a visa is 180 days, during which you must enter the territory of Israel and obtain local documents and citizenship.
  • Choose the repatriation program, the place of residence in Israel and the date of the flight. Jewish Agency may offer a future repatriate who received a visa for permanent residency in Israel ticket to Israel.
  • Once you arrive in Israel and passport control, you must visit the Department of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration (located directly at Ben Gurion Airport) to apply for Israeli citizenship and obtain your documents.
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    Consular verification: aliyahConsular verification is required to ensure your intentions are sincere and transparent in accordance with the Law of Return. The consul will ask personal questions to confirm your Jewish roots and generation eligibility, your reasons for making aliyah, your degree of religiosity and relationship to Judaism, and whether any family members may pose a threat to Israel.

    Overall, making aliyah is a straightforward process as long as you meet the criteria and have all the necessary documents.

    What documents do I need for consular verification?

    The list of documents will vary depending on your personal situation. Thus, there is no such thing as unnecessary documents. Any documents and even photos from family archives can be unexpectedly useful in passing the consular check.

    Approximate list of documents required to pass the consular check:

    • Birth certificate;
    • Marriage certificate of parents;
    • Birth certificates of parents;
    • Marriage certificate of grandparents;

    • Birth certificate of grandparents;
    • Military, party, Komsomol, pension, trade union and other documents;
    • Education documents.

    The documents must be authentic and presented in the original.

    In addition to the above-mentioned proof of Jewishness, the following documents will be required for consular verification:

    • A civil passport;
    • Foreign passport;
    • Photographs of the applicant, his/her children, spouse, and (depending on who is accompanying you);
    • Birth certificates of the applicant and his/her family;
    • Certificates of no criminal record for the applicant and his/her family (over 14 years old);
    • Information and contact details of relatives living in Israel.

    It is important to prepare the whole chain of documents for repatriation to Israel: for example, if you are applying as the grandson of a Jewish woman, you must provide not only the documents of your grandmother and her parents, but also those of your parents, as well as prove that you are all related to each other.

    What problems could I potentially face during Aliyah?


    Problems during aliyah

    While you may fully comply with the requirements of the Law of Returns, this does not guarantee you a positive response.

    Many nuances may prevent Jews, children or grandchildren of Jews from making aliyah to Israel.

    For example: 

    • criminal past – a criminal record, including an expunged one, greatly complicates the situation; it all depends on the article under which you were tried, and the statute of limitations on the violation of the law;
    • conversion to another religion – only a Jew who preaches Judaism or an atheist has the right to repatriation;
    • lack of sufficient documents – there may be a lack of evidence;
    • health – severe mental illness or infectious disease;
    • document fraud – If false documents are found, your entry to Israel will be permanently denied;
    • questionable purpose of the move – escape from the country of residence in order to conceal a crime, suspicion of a fictitious marriage, etc;
    • failure to comply with generation rule – applicant is 4th, 5th generation, etc.
    • adoption – if the child of a Jew was adopted by a person of another nationality;
    • new marriage – if a Jewish widow or widower marries a citizen of another nationality, the right to repatriation is annulle.

    In the case of rejection of the application for the right of repatriation, you can file a lawsuit in an Israeli court if you believe that the actions of the consular representative were unlawful. But you should note that this is a lengthy process.

    So if you want to definitely get citizenship of Israel, you can apply to us. We will find the right documents, we will prepare you for the consular inspection.

    Housing, employment, and social integration

    Returning to Israel is associated with certain difficulties and many nuances that are difficult for a future repatriate to deal with independently. Difficulties are often caused by issues of benefits, which are provided by the state in a large variety.

    Assistance to new repatriates is provided by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, established in 1948.

    Its main aim is the successful absorption of repatriates. To this end, it provides the necessary tools:

    1. Immigration financial benefits – repatriates can expect to receive money in the first 6 months of their stay in the country;
    2. Cost-of-living payments – paid at the end of the “immigration financial benefits” for those returnees who were not able to find employment during the first six months in Israel;
    3. Subsidies for pregnant women, pensioners, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups;
    4. Hebrew studies – the free course includes not only language instruction, but also an introduction to the national culture and traditions;
    5. Subsidies for school pupils and students – schools must be recognized by the Ministry of Aliyah;
    6. Tax incentives – income tax relief for students, when buying a car or a home;
    7. Employment assistance – Ministry officials are actively involved in helping immigrants find jobs and prepare for the vocational exam.

    An important function of the agency is to “bring back minds”. The Israeli government regularly emphasizes that returnees have done much for Israel and that without them the state would not exist.

    Repatriates in Israel

    It was the repatriate scientists who contributed significantly to the development of the economy, the medical field and agriculture. The government encourages the repatriation of scientists in a variety of ways: it finances their employment, subsidizes research work, and grants scholarships for doctoral studies. The state also cooperates with the nonprofit organization Jewish Agency for Israel.

    Do you have questions about aliyah or immigration to Israel? Contact us!

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