JNF Wire: Yom HaAliyah A Day to Recognize Immigrants' Contribution to Israel
April 20, 2016
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
JNF Wire: Yom HaAliyah
A Day to Recognize Immigrants’ Contributions to Israel
By: Deborah Danan
New olim celebrated Yom HaAliyah with Israelis in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.
This past Sunday evening, on April 17, scores of new Jewish immigrants to Israel raised a glass or two to toast a new holiday, and their own immigration to Israel. Standing alongside veteran Israelis and a Who’s Who of national politics in the picturesque Tel Aviv neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, all came to celebrate Yom HaAliyah.
The day commemorates the major role Jewish immigration has played since the State of Israel's founding in 1948, and while it is not an officially recognized national holiday, new and old immigrants have been working with members of the Israeli Knesset, Israel’s national parliament, to pass a bill to that effect.
Leading the campaign to make the day a national holiday is a grassroots movement spearheaded by JNFuture in Israel’s partner, the Am Yisrael Foundation — a strategic partner of Jewish National Fund (JNF).
Addressing the crowd of several hundred, MK Michael Oren, one of the chief proponents of the bill and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., proclaimed, "I think it's about time the State of Israel acknowledges that it was built on Aliyah."
Oren (in photo at left) explained that, in addition to infusing the country with new energy, talent, and an international perspective, new immigrants teach Israelis not to take the state for granted.
"Israelis—especially second, third, and fourth generations—don't have a deep understanding or appreciation of the immigrant experience in Israel and what we bring to the country," Oren said at the event. "Israelis don't know what a world without Israel looks like, but we, as immigrants, do."
Joining Oren in the push for recognition of the holiday and advancing the bill are MKs Hilik Bar, Miki Zohar, Avraham Negosa, and Robert Ilatov. To date, the bill has already passed the preliminary and first readings on the floor of the Knesset.
"This time next year we'll be celebrating Yom HaAliyah with thousands of olim [new immigrants] as a national holiday," said Jay Shultz, president of the Am Yisrael Foundation and co-founder of JNFuture Israel, noting the bill's non-partisan support among a range of MKs from all ends of the political spectrum.
Shultz explains the significance of the Hebrew date of the proposed holiday—the 10th of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar—as the first time in Jewish history when mass aliyah took place as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and into the land of Israel.
As the evening wound down and the rock band “Black Shabbos” packed up, an acapella group led the crowd in singing Israel's national anthem, HaTikvah.
Jonathan Javor, an activists campaigning for the bill, pointed to the fact that both of the evening’s entertainers are comprised of olim from all over the world.
"It doesn't matter where you're from, we're all here to celebrate the same thing," said Javor. "Aliyah is the cornerstone of Israel and Yom HaAliyah is the bill that celebrates that."
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
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