Israel is marking its first official Aliyah Day, celebrating immigration to the country and the contributions of immigrants to its society.
The holiday on Tuesday was established by the Knesset in June. Literally “ascension,” aliyah is a Hebrew term used to refer to Jewish immigration to Israel.
“I will not give up on a single Jew or a single immigrant,” Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said at a special session of the Knesset Committee on Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs in honor of Aliyah Day.
“I say to all Jews, without distinction, that I want them and their prayers and their rabbis here in Israel. There is room for all of us here, and we must tell all Jews who support us abroad and all who wish to immigrate to Israel that they are wanted and accepted among us.”
Sharansky was referring to the current unrest over the agreement to establish an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall Plaza.
The Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, also participated in the special session.
Among other observances of the day scheduled are celebrations in the Knesset and a program at the president’s residence, as well as in schools, the army and the police force, as required by law.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also praised immigrants on Monday, telling a a meeting of his Likud party’s MKs that “the contribution of so many different communities is so broad and deep.”
He singled out immigrants’ contribution to Israel’s relationship with the countries from which they emigrated.
“I see it in Russia, in Ukraine, in France. They don’t just contribute to Israel, they contribute to Israel’s foreign relations,” he said.
“Aliyah is the foundation of the state of the Jews and the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy of the Jewish people returning to its land and building it,” Netanyahu added.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report