November 8 marks a new holiday in the Jewish state - the first-ever Aliyah Day. The Jerusalem Post's Tamara Zieve writes that the day not only celebrates the olim (immigrants) who make up Israel's population, but also looks to expand The Fellowship's efforts to encourage and aid immigration:
For the first time ever Israel will mark Aliya Day on Tuesday, a new national holiday celebrating immigration. This follows a law passed by the Knesset in June instituting the holiday on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, coinciding with the reading of the Torah portion in which Abraham is told to leave his home to go to what is now Israel.
On Aliya Day, schools will teach about the contributions immigrants made to Israel, the Knesset will hold special meetings and ceremonies will be held by the President’s Residence, the IDF and police.
The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption will host an official ceremony to mark the day at Jerusalem's International Convention Center on Tuesday night. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, were set to attend the gathering, which will include a festive concert honoring various stages of aliya from different countries.
"37 years ago I made aliya due to the desire to build my home here and raise a family. Like me, hundreds of thousands of olim arrive in Israel every year from the same sense of connection to the homeland," Landver said, ahead of the event. "I am proud and excited that for the first time a day to mark aliya is being held in Israel. All those immigrants, from the first aliya to the fifth, to operations Moses and and Solomon and to the new olim, everyone makes up the Kibbutz Galuyot (ingathering of exiles) which is called the state of Israel."
In addition to being a day of celebration, the occasion also provides an opportunity to reflect upon issues and challenges faced by immigrants already in the country...
IFCJ (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) continues to identify areas where it can add value. “Aliya really should be one of highest priorities of Israel but as long as it’s not getting the attention it needs, the Fellowship will fill in the gaps,” said Executive Vice President and CEO of IFCJ in Israel Jeff Kaye. The organization began bringing Jews from around the world to Israel in 2012, and Kaye asserts that it will invest even more in aliya in 2017.
“We’re pleased that there is Aliya Day but for us every day is Aliya Day,” he remarks. “It’s one of the dangers when something like this becomes official, that for the rest of the year it’s not important...”