The Jewish Agency is embarking on an effort to persuade Central American Jews to move to Israel instead of the United States, which has traditionally been their top destination, an agency spokesman said on Tuesday.

Top agency officials will fly to Guatemala next month to conduct a seminar for agency volunteers from eight countries in Central and South America with substantial Jewish populations, in an effort to double the annual number of Central American immigrants to Israel from 250 to 500.

The volunteers will be asked to encourage more young people to come to attend Israeli universities and to serve in the IDF, in hopes that their families would follow them to Israel later on. The agency's global center in Jerusalem operates a hotline for prospective immigrants to call toll free from their countries and ask questions in Spanish about moving to Israel.

"We would like Jews who are considering emigrating from Central American countries to consider Israel as a viable option if they decide to leave," a Jewish Agency spokesman said. "Over the last year, nearly 4,000 Jews have made aliya from the United States, so Central American Jews should see from their example that Israel is a good choice for them."

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