The Knesset introduced a new bill this week to mark the Hebrew date of the 10th of Nisan (April 10 this year) as "Yom Haaliyah," a national holiday celebrating Jewish immigration to Israel.
The holiday intends to recognize Aliyah (immigration) as a core principle of the Jewish state, and honor the contributions to the country by immigrants. The bill states the holiday's purpose is to "realize the value and supreme importance of Aliyah in the past, present and future to the strengthening of Israel from within."
MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Hilik Bar (Labor), Gila Gamliel (Likud) and Yoel Rozbozov (Yesh Atid), who serves as Chariman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Disapora Affairs, sponsored the bill. Various parties in both the coalition and opposition have thrown their weight behind the bill, which is very similar to a bill proposed in 2010.
The 10th of Nisan was selected for the holiday given the historical importance of the date, on which the Jews crossed the Jordan River into Israel after the Exodus from Egypt, as recorded in the Book of Joshua. The bill notes this was the "first mass Aliyah in history."
MK Bar remarked that "the Yom Haaliyah bill is an important national day in a country that was built on Aliyah, since that it is an inseparable part of the country's essence."
Yom Haaliyah is planned to be celebrated in various ceremonies, highlighting the contribution of immigrants who have found their way home to Israel from all parts of the world.
Initially, the bill was drafted and lobbied for by Jay Shultz, an immigrant from New York who founded TLV Internationals, a large online community for young professional immigrants; Schultz was joined in the bill by Jonathan Javor who immigrated from London, and who also was part of TLV Internationals before working for the Mayor of Tel Aviv to plan the absorption of immigrants.
"We have a lot to rejoice about"
"Yom HaAliyah is a chance for Israel to reach out to all Jews throughout the world and say that Israel is not a place for them to just consider living in; this is their Home," noted Javor, “with this new national holiday, the Jewish People can celebrate Israel as the country to come to by choice, not just as a refuge from adversity.”
Shultz, who is also President of the Am Yisrael Foundation, pointed out that "for thousands of years, Aliyah has been the motivating force for Jews who never gave up the dream of Jewish self-determination and independence, and thanks to the Olim that came before, today is the easiest time in history for a Jew to live on the Land of Israel."
Speaking about the importance of the bill, Shultz remarked "as the only ancient people that have been exiled and made the momentous return to their ancestral Homeland, we have a lot to rejoice about. This bill of national celebration will help us do just that, and I look forward to Jewish diaspora communities around the world joining us. Not just because supporting Israel is a responsibility, but because it is a noble honor.”