Aliyah (עלייה) is a Hebrew term, literally meaning "ascent", widely used to mean Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel (and since its establishment in 1948, the State of Israel). The opposite action, Jewish emigration away from Israel, is called Yerida.
Aliyah is an important Jewish cultural concept and is enshrined in the Israeli Law of Return which theoretically permits any Jew to immigrate to Israel. A Jew who makes aliyah is called an oleh (pl. olim, lit. "one who ascends").
In Zionist history, different waves of aliyah, beginning with the arrival of the Biluim from Russia in 1882, are known as aliyot (the plural of aliyah). These aliyot are often categorized by date and the country of origin of the immigrants. See Immigration to Palestine and Israel.
Aliyah also refers, in synagogue life, to the honor of being "called up" to read a section of the Torah during a service. For example, the relevant section of the Torah reading for each shabbat is divided into seven aliyot.
- First Aliyah (1882–1903) from Russia, Yemen. Total: 15,000. Founded first agricultural settlements.
- Second Aliyah (1904–1914) from Russia. Total 40,000 (about half left). Founded Tel Aviv and first kibbutz.
- Third Aliyah (1919–1923) from Russia, Poland (Total: 40,000). Founded Histradrut Labor Union and Haganah.
- Fourth Aliyah (1923–1929) from Poland, Hungary. Total: 80,000 (over one-quarter left). Emergence of an urban middle class.
- Fifth Aliyah (1929–1939) from Germany, Central and Eastern Europe. Total: 250,000 (10 percent left). Intellectual middle class. Refugee artists introduced Bauhaus (Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of Bauhaus architecture in the world) and founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra.