Bill introduced in Knesset to mark ‘Aliyah Day’

10th of Nisan would become official Israeli holiday to honor those who came here from other countries

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

A group of 229 new immigrants arriving in Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh in July. (photo credit: Sason Tiram)
A group of 229 new immigrants arriving in Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh in July. (photo credit: Sason Tiram)

MKs from four parties introduced a bill in the Knesset last week that would establish a national holiday to recognize and celebrate immigration to Israel.

The bill, co-signed by MKs from all major Knesset parties, including opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Labor), was sponsored by MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), MK Hilik Bar (Labor), MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) and Knesset Absorption Committee Chairman MK Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid).

If passed, the bill will designate the 10th of Nisan, which this year falls on April 10, as an official day of national celebration in which Jewish immigration to Israel is honored and noteworthy immigrants are recognized for their contributions to the nation. The day would be marked by special activities in the education system, a discussion in the Knesset plenum and other official events.

The bill will not become law in time for this year’s holiday, as the Knesset went to its spring recess at the end of last week. But MKs confirmed to The Times of Israel this week that the bill will advance when the Knesset returns to its summer session in June.

The bill was co-written by New York City native Jay Shultz, the founder of the grassroots community organization TLV Internationals, and London native Jonathan Javor, who made an unsuccessful bid for Tel Aviv city council in October and serves as an adviser on immigration strategy to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

The 10th of Nisan is, according to the Book of Joshua, the date of the first-ever mass aliyah, with the Biblical narrative relating that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land on that date, ending their 40 years of wandering in the desert. The bill, say its initiators, is meant to honor those who have come here for all reasons.

“With this new national holiday, the Jewish people can celebrate Israel as the country to come to by choice, not just as a refuge from adversity,” said Javor.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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