"I'm only sorry I didn't come to Israel
earlier on, but better late than never," says Moises Lederman, a retired businessman who made aliyah
earlier this year at the age of 100.
"For me this is a dream come true," he says.
Lederman, the oldest person to immigrate to the Jewish state over the course of 2012, was among nearly 18,000 who made aliyah this year, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. A similar number was recorded in 2011.
Not unlike in years past, the bulk of the olim came from Russia – 3,451 people, or 20% of the total. Seventeen percent, or 2,952, came from the United States, while 14%, or 2,952, came from Ethiopia.
Some 2,030 migrants came from Ukraine and 1,853 moved from France.
The olim also hailed from smaller countries, including Honduras, Madagascar and the Dominican Republic, as well as Monaco and Andorra.
A dream come true. Lederman
This wasn't Lederman's first big move; he was born on February 15, 1912 in Poland, and immigrated to Brazil at the age of 18.
Lederman has three children, all of whom moved to Israel before him, as well as seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He made the decision to finally make aliyah two years ago, after Miriam, his wife of 60 years, passed away.
He says his favorite part of life in Israel is the Shabbat.
"It gives off a feeling of sanctity and tranquility," he said, referring to the Jewish day of rest. "In Brazil, Saturday feels just likeany other day."
The centenarian notes he never thought he would make aliyah at his age, but "there comes a time when you have no choice but to be near your family."
As expected, Lederman's case isn't typical. The major portion of this year's olim, 5,274 to be exact, were 19 years of age or younger, while 4,890 were in their twenties.
According to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, most of the young immigrants came to Israel to complete their studies, which are bankrolled by the state.
Alongside students, some 2,000 professionals moved to Israel this year, including engineers, programmers, legalists and psychologists.