Israeli organizations entrusted with facilitating Aliyah (immigration to Israel) have recently marked a sharp increase in the number of North American Jews registering for immigration to Israel.
According to data presented by Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that facilitates Aliyah from North America, the number of immigration requests has increased by 157% since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out.
In June, the Jewish Agency opened 3,359 Aliyah files, marking a 592% increase.
Lynda Borro, a 44-year-old single mother, is part of a skyrocketing number of Jews who have applied for Aliyah in the past few months.
Borro shared with TPS why she decided to apply for Aliyah during the pandemic, and what she expects from Israel.
“My decision on making Aliyah was previous to COVID-19, but COVID-19 rushed me into doing it earlier,” said Borro, who had moved from France to Arizona in the United States.
Before making her decision on where in Israel to move, Borro had planned on visiting with her daughter. When her flight to Israel was canceled following the Coronavirus lockdowns, she decided to apply for Aliyah without visiting.
“I decided I’m just going to do it,” Borro said. “I just can’t wait any longer.”
Making Aliyah had been Borro’s “dream” for quite a while, and the pandemic only strengthened her resolution.
“What COVID-19 created, is that it gave me more determination. Feeling the risk of COVID-19 gave me more strength in my own belief. I’m like, okay, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to make more plans. I want to do it now,” she said.
About living in Israel, she said “I want to be surrounded by my people, for sure. Even though my close family is here in Arizona, I want to be where I think I belong and where I feel at home. I don’t feel home [in Arizona]. I don’t feel home in France, even though I was born there. I feel home in Israel. And I think when everything is going kind of crazy, you want to be in a place where you feel home.”
Her dramatic decision is less related to the US’s handling of the virus, Borro added.
“It had nothing to do with politics. If I would be in France, I would feel the same way, even though [COVID-19] hasn’t been handled the same way in Arizona. So, it has nothing to do with politics,” Borro said. “It’s just that I was feeling fear of the Coronavirus. I would feel safer being in Israel because I would feel safer being in my homeland.”
It is not only a Jewish community that Borro seeks. It is Israel itself she would physically like to live in.
“It’s more about the land. It’s that I want to breathe in Israel, I feel like I don’t breathe correctly outside of Israel,” said Borro. “It’s hard to describe because it’s really a feeling. And I want my daughter to breathe there. I want my daughter to be a part of Israel, now.”
Borro added that life had never felt right for her daughter, who grew up in France before moving to the US. Borro’s daughter will make Aliyah with her mother.
“[My daughter] didn’t really adjust to Arizona, to the way of life, to anything here. So, she’s looking forward to moving to Israel. She’s been there a couple of times. And we have family there. I have cousins in Israel and we have friends there. And she knows she would relate more to the way of life over there.”
Borro “can’t wait” to make Aliyah with her daughter and is only awaiting approval from the Jewish Agency before moving.
Israel is expecting a quarter of a million Olim in the next 3-5 years, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog told the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee in August, a wave of immigration following the global Coronavirus crisis.