The Benichou family, originally from France, represents a growing trend among Jewish families choosing to immigrate to Israel in times of conflict. Facing increasing antisemitism in their home country, Yona and Mikhael Benichou accelerated their plans to move after a particularly unsettling incident in Marseille. They are part of a wave of over 2,600 individuals who have made Aliyah, the Hebrew term for Jewish immigration to Israel, since October 7th.
Aliyah in Times of War
While immigration to Israel has generally decreased due to the ongoing war, the resolve of some Jews to move there has not waned. Many, like the Benichous and Aaron Gold, a 26-year-old American, have expedited their plans to relocate. These decisions are often influenced by a combination of factors, including rising antisemitism in their countries of origin and a deep-seated commitment to Israel.
The Role of Support Organizations
Organizations like the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have played a pivotal role in facilitating these immigrations. They have provided financial assistance and logistical support to families like the Benichous, enabling them to make the significant transition amid challenging times.
Statistics and Perspectives
The recent spike in Aliyah is notable, with 2,662 people immigrating since the start of the conflict, including significant numbers from Russia, the United States, Ukraine, France, and Belarus. These figures, though lower than previous years, indicate a steadfast commitment among Jews worldwide to relocate to Israel despite the ongoing conflict.
The Jewish Agency’s Expectations
The Jewish Agency for Israel is witnessing a dramatic rise in applications for Aliyah, particularly from France and the U.S. This trend suggests a potential surge in immigration to Israel in the coming months. The agency’s head, Yigal Palmor, anticipates a notable increase in new arrivals, while Immigration Minister Ofir Sofer prepares for a surge due to growing global antisemitism and solidarity with Israel.
Individual Stories and Motivations
Beyond statistics, individual stories shed light on the complexities of such a decision. Daniel Bleiweiss from Argentina, for instance, chose to immigrate with his son, motivated by Argentina’s economic crisis, the desire for a better life for his son with special needs, and the rise in antisemitism. Like many others, Bleiweiss sees Israel as the safest place to express Jewish identity.
Challenges and Optimism
For families like the Benichous, relocating to Israel has not been without its difficulties. They faced financial challenges due to the abruptness of their move. However, their story is one of resilience and hope, with even the youngest family members understanding the significance of their Aliyah.
In summary, these stories of Jewish immigration to Israel amid conflict highlight a complex interplay of fear, hope, and a deep connection to the Jewish homeland. They represent a significant trend in Jewish life and the enduring allure of Israel as a haven, even in times of war.