Aliyah ("Ascent," in Hebrew)

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ALIYAH ("Ascent," in Hebrew)

: The term evokes the "return to roots" that every "believer" must accomplish, referring to the dispersion (diaspora) of the Jewish people in the year 135 c.e. By extension it designates Jewish emigration to the territory that would become, after 1948, the new State of Israel. The immigrants are called olim, and those who immigrated clandestinely maʿapilim.

The first waves of Jewish immigration into Palestine took place in the fifteenth century, following persecution suffered by the Jews in Spain and Portugal. New waves of immigration took place between 1882 and 1890, 1904 and 1915, as well as between 1919 and 1923 from Central Europe, contributing to the development of colonies established in Palestine, conforming to the Zionist and socialist ideology advocated by the principal leaders of the international Jewish community. The victory of Nazism in Germany gave rise to a new mass exodus of persons, who sought to escape genocide more than to participate in the renewal of the Land of Zion, hence allowing a move from ideological Zionism to political Zionism. Toward the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s, Israel organized several operations, named "Flying Carpet" and "Ezra and Nehamiah," to bring in 120,000 Jews from Iraq, and several thousand others from Yemen and North Africa. During the 1970s and 1980s, the "Moses" and "Solomon" operations allowed almost 35,000 Ethiopian Jews to come to Israel. Finally, between 1989 and 1994, American-Soviet détente and the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the arrival in Israel of almost 500,000 Jews of Russian provenance. The word aliya is close in meaning to the Arab term Awliya.

SEE ALSO Diaspora.