TEL AVIV – A bill creating Israel’s newest national holiday, Yom HaAliyah, passed its final reading in the Knesset on Tuesday with universal support from MKs across the political spectrum.
According to the new law, Yom HaAliyah pays homage to Aliyah – immigration to Israel – as a cornerstone of both Israel’s founding and its future. The law also makes international history with Israel becoming the first country in the world to dedicate a national holiday to honoring the contribution of immigrants.
The push for official recognition came at the grassroots level and was spearheaded by Tel Aviv Internationals, a volunteer-run organization comprised largely of immigrants from the West.
For the past four years, the organization and its base of supporters, who number in the thousands, have been celebrating Yom HaAliyah in an unofficial capacity on the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. The date coincides with the first mass Aliyah mentioned in the Bible, when Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land for the first time.
“It is the ideal of Aliyah and the pioneering contributions of Olim [immigrants] in each generation that make this the easiest time in history to be a Jew living in the Land of Israel,” founder of Tel Aviv Internationals Jay Shultz told Breitbart Jerusalem.
“The 10th of Nisan is just days before the Pesach seder, and ideally, coming home is on the minds of Jews around the globe when they chant ‘next year in Jerusalem,'” he added.
Although the legislation earmarks the 10th of Nisan, Israeli schools and the Knesset, which are on Passover recess during that time, will mark the national holiday on the 7th of Heshvan, coinciding with the Torah portion in which God commands Abraham to leave his home and head for the land of Israel.
Schools will celebrate Yom HaAliyah with outings and activities designed to teach pupils to appreciate the impact that new immigrants have had on Israeli society. The President’s Residence, the IDF, the Israel Police, and of course the Knesset will also host ceremonies and events to mark the day.
The law was backed by a wide consensus of Knesset members in both the governing coalition and the opposition, and was co-signed by MK Micki Zohar (Likud), MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu), MK Hilik Bar (Avoda), MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), and MK Avraham Negosa (Likud.)
“It’s incredible to witness the multi-partisan support in the government for this holiday, conceived of by a group of very determined Olim. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to honor Aliyah as the beating heart of this nation,” Jonathan Javor of Tel Aviv Internationals said.