Aliyah, (pl. aliyot) "ascension" or "going up" is the arrival of Jews as individuals or groups, from exile or Diaspora to live in Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel. Those who "go up" for this purpose are known as olim - a term used in the Bible when the Children of Israel went up from Egypt (Gen. 50:14 and Num. 32:11) and - at a later period - for the exiles who returned from captivity in Babylon (Ezra 2:1,59 and Neh. 5-6). The call of Cyrus, King of Persia, in 538 B.C.E., - "Whosoever there is among you of all His people, his God be with him, - let him go up." (Ezra 1:3, IIChron. 36:23) - has been used as a watchword for aliyah.

It was aliyah that re-created the Jewish Commonwealth in the Land after the Babylonian Exile, provided the community with some of its prominent spiritual leaders during the Second Temple and subsequent periods, preserved and repeatedly renewed the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael during the periods of Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman rule, and reestablished the State of Israel in modern times.