Nefesh B'Befesh aliya Aug 2013 150.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Aliya Day will be commemorated five days before Passover each year if a new bill submitted Tuesday becomes law.
The legislation was proposed by MKs Robert Ilatov (Likud Beytenu), Hilik Bar (Labor), Gila Gamliel (Likud Beytenu) and Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs chairman Yoel Razvozov. It would set a national holiday to reaffirm immigration, or aliya, as a core principle of the State of Israel.
According to the bill, Aliya Day will “realize the value and supreme importance of aliya in the past, present and future to the strengthening of Israel from within, as the foundation of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and in the creation and development of a multicultural society that shares a common language, with a shared history and united future.”
The day chosen, the 10th of the Hebrew month Nissan, marks the date on which the Israelites crossed the Jordan River according to the Book of Joshua, the first mass aliya in history.
“Aliya Day is an important bill, because this country was built on immigration, which is a foundational element in our Zionist and democratic identity,” Bar explained.
Ilatov said it will “strengthen pride in and appreciation of immigrants who did something that should not be taken for granted, leaving their homes in the Diaspora to fulfill the Zionist dream.”
“This bill will promote cultural integration in Israel and mark immigrants’ contribution to our social and cultural wealth, thus fixing the injustice done to different populations whose contributions were not recognized,” Gamliel added.
The aliya bill was originally written by Jay Shultz, founder of TLV Internationals, which organizes cultural events for immigrants in Tel Aviv, and Jonathan Javor, who is writing an immigrant absorption plan for Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
A similar bill was proposed in the previous Knesset by then-National Union leader Ya’acov Katz, written by his aide Jeremy Saltan, an immigrant from the US who works for Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.