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Mayor's Statement
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Immigrant Absorption

Ashkelon leads in immigrant absorption:

Absorption2Ashkelon is a city that absorbs new immigrants.  Approximately 40,000 new immigrants have been absorbed in Ashkelon in the past 20 years and the city has doubled its population, which presently stands at 128,000 residents (as of May 2011).  Most of these immigrants, about 33,700, are from the Former Soviet Union; around 6,300 are from Ethiopia, and the rest are from countries of southern and northern Africa, France, southern and western Europe and elsewhere.  The Municipality, Jewish Agency and Ministry of Immigrant Absorption have initiated group aliyah projects from France and encourage aliyah from FSU countries.  Additionally, in recent years many families have moved to Ashkelon because of the city’s advantages, the advanced network of services and the high quality of life that residents enjoy here.  Ashkelon is famous in the FSU, France and other countries as a high quality and attractive city that can be a preferred place to live.
New immigrants have been absorbed in Ashkelon based on the direct absorption model and within a short time have become integrated in the city’s fabric of life.  The immigrants have permanent homes in top quality integrated neighborhoods.
About 80% of the newcomers have found jobs – in industry, tourism, commerce and services, as well as private businesses.  Dozens of doctors have been accepted to the staff at Barzilai Medical Center.
The immigrants’ children have been integrated into the city’s school system, from preschool to university, and adults have studied Hebrew in ulpan classes.  Hundreds of immigrants have also taken part in vocational training courses.
The Ashkelon Municipality believes that immigration is a blessing for the city, and the newcomers' contribution to the city’s social fabric and the cultural and community life, is considerable and rich.

New Ashkelon was founded by immigrants:

Absorption2At the end of the War of Independence, when the city was liberated in November 1948, the first families of immigrants arrived in the town of Majdal – new immigrants, survivors from the DP camps in Europe and refugees from neighboring Arab countries.  They took over the abandoned houses, planted roots, built and established a settlement that within a very short time grew and developed into a growing and prosperous big city.  Immigrants never stopped arriving in Ashkelon throughout its entire existence.  They came in waves, and with each wave the new citizens were absorbed and established themselves, and quickly became veteran residents who absorbed the wave of immigrants that came after them.  Coming from every corner of the globe, these new  immigrants created a rich and fascinating social mosaic of people who live a shared communal life.  Ashkelon’s residents live together in harmony and tolerance, and are open and friendly towards new residents.  Ashkelon will continue to absorb immigrants, and according to plans the city’s population will reach 144,000 people by the year 2020.

Special projects for social absorption in Ashkelon:

  • Absorption2Four ulpan classes for Hebrew studies for immigrants; the Beit Tzipora Center; for Hebrew study and reinforcement for Ethiopian immigrants;
  • Theater and nurturing the folklore of Ethiopian immigrants at the Havatzelet Center;
  • The Camelot Club, offering theater and art for immigrant youth; 
  • The Menorah Club, offering theater for immigrants from the FSU;
  • Cultural center for immigrant artists;
  • Culture club – with choirs and ensembles at the Shapira Center;
  • Library for Russian-speaking immigrants at the Neve Ayalim community center;
  • Joint cultural evenings, theater and concerts for immigrants and Israelis, at the Cultural Center;
  • Extensive voluntary activities through the immigrant associations;
  • Immigration hot-line – an organization that coordinates activities for the Ethiopian community;
  • Absorption database (masad klita) – a project that helps immigrants connect with the community around them.


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