Argentinian Jews moving to Israel get off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in 2020. (Photo/JTA-Jewish Agency for Israel)
Argentinian Jews moving to Israel get off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in 2020. (Photo/JTA-Jewish Agency for Israel)

Driven by uncertainty at home, Argentinian Jews flock to Israel

Travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the global pandemic didn’t stop Argentinian Jews from making the move to Israel – aliyah rose in 2020 by 26 percent.

Some 567 Argentines moved to the Jewish state last year, up from 460 in 2019. In the same period, aliyah dropped 40 percent worldwide, to 20,000 from 33,247, according to data from the Jewish Agency for Israel.

It’s a trend that appears to be continuing, as Jews in Argentina are increasingly taking Hebrew courses with an eye toward making aliyah.

The World Zionist Organization’s classes, managed by Israel’s Department of Aliyah Promotion, had a nearly 50 percent increase in participation in 2020 over the previous year, to 1,300 students from 900. And reconfigured online courses launched this year to manage the high demand are proving popular, with 2,000 students.

“Israel is an attractive country,” Alejandro Mellincovsky, the head of Aliyah Promotion in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Even before the pandemic it was a very attractive country, but now even more, when you see the performance of the vaccination process and the beginning of the recovery.”

He added that the trend toward aliyah is “clear and accelerating.”

Meanwhile, Argentina registered an inflation rate of approximately 36 percent in 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires fielded about 40 new requests each month for economic assistance. Since the COVID quarantine, the figure has soared to more than 500 — an increase of 1,200 percent.

Buenos Aires is home to about 159,000 Jews, according to the 2018 World Jewish Population study by expert Sergio Della Pergola, helping give Argentina the largest Jewish population in Latin America.

Artist Shira Denise will move to Israel in a couple of months with her husband, Adrian Mac, a human resources professional, and their sons, aged 5 and 2.

In her song “Raanana” (sung to the music of “Havana” by Camila Cabello), she expressed her dream to live in Israel, to be part of the series “Fauda” and, even before her departure, said that half her heart is in Raanana and the other in her native Argentina.

Her video went viral in Argentina and was featured on Israeli TV.


Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.