- ALIYAH (Heb. עֲלִיָּה; "ascent"), (1) the coming of Jews to the Land of Israel as olim (fem.: olot; sing.: oleh, olah) for permanent residence; (2) Jews coming from a particular country or region, or during a particular period, for this purpose, e.g., the Polish aliyah, the First Aliyah. Aliyah means more than immigration: it is a major ideal of zionism and the primary means for its realization. It implies personal participation in the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland and the elevation of the individual to a higher plane of self-fulfillment as a member of the renascent nation. In earlier years the majority of olim were inspired by idealistic motives and even during the period of mass aliyah, when the main driving force was persecution and distress, many were motivated by messianic yearnings and there was always an infusion of idealists. Aliyah has been an almost uninterrupted process ever since the crushing of Jewish resistance by the Romans, but the term has been used particularly in connection with the modern Jewish return to the Land of Israel. Five major waves have been distinguished during the period of Zionist resettlement, each of which played its part in molding the yishuv, the Jewish community which constituted the Jewish state in embryo. The First Aliyah, 1882–1903, consisted of individuals and small groups, mainly under the inspiration of Ḥibbat Zion and the bilu movement, who established the early moshavot (see moshavah ). Some 25,000 – mostly from Eastern Europe – arrived during this period. There were two main influxes: in 1882–84 and 1890–91. The Second Aliyah, 1904–14, which laid the foundation for the labor movement, consisted mainly of pioneers from Eastern Europe, who generally worked as hired laborers in the moshavot or the cities. They established the first Jewish labor parties and self-help institutions, the ha-shomer watchmen's association, and the first kevuẓot (see kibbutz ), and laid the foundations for a new Hebrew press and literature. The influx, which totaled about 40,000, was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. The Third Aliyah, 1919–23, which started immediately after World War I, contained many young pioneers (ḥalutzim) belonging to the He-Ḥalutz and Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir movements. Together with the veterans of the Second Aliyah, they established the histadrut and gedud ha-avodah , worked on road-building, set up more kevuẓot and kibbutzim, and founded the first moshavim . Over 35,000 arrived during this period. The Fourth Aliyah, 1924–28, which totaled some 67,000, contained many middle-class olim, over half of them from Poland. Some four-fifths settled in the main cities, considerably increasing the urban population, building new quarters, and setting up workshops and small factories. Development was halted by an unemployment crisis in 1926–28. The Fifth Aliyah, 1929–39, accounted for an influx of over 250,000 Jews and transformed the character of the yishuv. A prominent part was played by refugees from Nazi Germany, over a quarter of the total, who transferred large amounts of capital and contributed valuable skills and business experience. Aliyah continued during and after World War II, totaling about 100,000 in 1940–48 (sometimes referred to as the Sixth and Seventh Aliyot). Under British rule (1918–48) aliyah was regulated by the Government of Palestine. The official criterion for the numbers admitted was, in normal periods, the country's "economic absorptive capacity," on which the British authorities and Jewish leaders did not agree, but in periods of crisis aliyah was often halted or severely restricted on political grounds. Between 1934 and 1948, some 115,000 olim were brought into the country in defiance of British restrictions, while another 51,500 were interned by the authorities in Cyprus and admitted only after the achievement of independence. This influx was described by the British as "illegal" immigration and by the Jews as Aliyah Bet or ha'palah. Independent Israel immediately removed all restrictions on aliyah and enacted the law of Return (1950), which guaranteed every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel as an oleh, unless he or she was a danger to public health or security, and to become a citizen immediately on arrival. The mass aliyah that followed the establishment of the State assumed the character of kibbuẓ galuyyot ("the ingathering of the exiles" ), almost entire Jewish communities, such as those of Bulgaria, Yemen, and lraq, being transferred to Israel. The resources of the State, as well as massive contributions from world Jewry through the jewish agency , were mobilized for the transportation, reception, and integration of the olim. Mass aliyah – mainly from Eastern and Central Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East – resulted in the immigration of over a million and a quarter Jews in Israel's first two decades, the influx rising to its greatest heights in 1948–51 (684,000), 1955–57 (161,000), and 1961–64 (220,000). After the Six-Day War of 1967 there was a considerable increase in "voluntary" aliyah from Western Europe and the Americas. In the 1970s, as a result of pressure from Israel and other Western countries, the U.S.S.R. opened its gates, enabling more than 150,000 Jews to make aliyah. The majority arrived until 1973, and later on many of them left Israel and moved to other Western countries. The next massive aliyah from the U.S.S.R. began in 1989 when it reestablished relations with Israel. In 1990–91, 350,000 Russian immigrants arrived in Israel, and by 2003, over a million had emigrated from the former Soviet Union, making them the country's largest immigrant group. The majority were motivated by economic and social factors rather than Zionist ideology. Many were professionals – physicians, engineers, musicians, etc. – and by the end of the 1990s over 30% were non-Jews (as opposed to 10% in the 1990–95 period), benefiting from Israel's liberal Law of Return, which accords the right to immigrate to non-Jewish descendants of Jews. Though their absorption in the country was often difficult, they became a highly visible and influential population group in the course of the years. During the same period Israel also faced aliyah from Ethiopia. The first olim arrived at the end of the 1970s, after R. ovadiah yosef acknowledged their Jewishness. About 5,000 arrived independently at refugee camps in Sudan and were brought from there to Israel. As many of them lost their lives on the way, the Israeli government initiated Operation Moses at the end of 1984, in which 8,000 were airlifted to Israel in a 45-day period. In 1985, Sudan closed its borders and the Ethiopian aliyah ceased. In May 1991, it was renewed, with another 14,000 arriving in a dramatic 36-hour airlift (Operation Solomon). Since then, more have arrived in small groups, bringing the total of Ethiopian Jewry to 80,000 in 2002. Their integration into the country's life, socially and economically, has been extremely problematic, though the younger generation is being steadily "Israelified." In the early years of the 21st century, aliyah consisted of small groups of olim, mainly from Argentina and France. See also state of israel : Aliyah, Absorption and Settlement, where a bibliography is given. For Aliyah le-Torah, see torah reading . (Misha Louvish / Fred Skolnik (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.