The idea of aliyah – Jews immigrating to Israel from the Diaspora – generally conjures up the image of young single people or young families. But plenty of people aged 65 and over also make the decision to come to Israel once they’ve already raised children and grandchildren, according to a new report from the Knesset Research and Information Center.
The report, based on figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, reveals that 3,625 senior citizens made aliyah in 2017, comprising 14 percent of the total new immigrants for that year.
Nearly half of the senior immigrants arrived from Russia and Ukraine (28 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Another 628 seniors (17 percent) moved to Israel from France; 349 made aliyah from the U.S.; and the rest came to Israel from other countries.
The report also provided an overview of aliyah by senior citizens from 1990-2017, during which a total of 228,039 senior citizens relocated to Israel from all over the world. The figures show that the gender breakdown among senior olim resembles that of the rest of the country’s senior citizen population, with 60 percent of new immigrants over age of 65 being women compared to 40 percent men.
The vast majority of senior citizens who made aliyah in this 27-year period came from the former Soviet Union (82 percent). Another 3 percent of senior citizens came to Israel from Ethiopia, 2 percent arrived from the U.S. and Canada, and 1 percent from France.
The Knesset report also includes less pleasing data: Numbers from the National Insurance Institute for 2016 show that poverty was more prevalent among senior citizen immigrants than among the general population of senior citizens in Israel, with 20.2 percent of new immigrants over 65 living below the poverty line, compared to 16.7 percent of Israel’s senior population as a whole.