TEL AVIV – Hundreds of new immigrants and native Israelis celebrated the new holiday of Yom HaAliyah in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening.
The day marks the profound impact that Aliyah – immigration to Israel – has had on the Jewish state since its founding.
Although not yet an official public holiday, a grassroots movement led by Tel Aviv Internationals has succeeded in garnering support from members of Knesset across the political spectrum and a bill to give Yom HaAliyah legal status is well under way.
“Aliyah is not only about our past, it’s about the future of the State of Israel,” MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), who is pushing the Yom HaAliyah bill, told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Oren, who is the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., added that new immigrants to Israel, having lived overseas, understand the implications of a world without Israel while native Israelis can’t even conceive of such a scenario.
The Hebrew date of Yom HaAliyah, the 10th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, coincides with the country’s first mass immigration in 1273 BCE when Joshua led the Children of Israel over the Jordan River and into the land of Israel.
According to Jay Shultz, Tel Aviv Internationals’ founder, people have already been celebrating Yom HaAliyah for a few years now.
“But next year we’ll be celebrating it as a public holiday with many, many thousands more,” he told Breitbart Jerusalem.
“The Aliyah story is unique in human history, and a thread that connects every Jew in the world,” he added.
Jonathan Javor, a volunteer at Tel Aviv Internationals leading the Yom HaAliyah initiative, said he was astounded at the support the bill received in the Knesset.
“It’s very rare to get support from all factions – left, right, centrist,” Javor, who was formerly a parliamentary aide, said. “But it’s incredible to see. No matter where you come from, celebrating olim’s [new immigrants] contribution to our country is important to everyone.”