The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs approved on Monday a bill designating the seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan ”Aliyah Day” for its first reading in the plenum.
The legislation is intended to institute a day dedicated to immigrants to Israel (olim) and their contributions to the country. The day would be marked around the country in schools, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, the President’s Residence, and the Knesset. In addition, on this day the government would hold a special event honoring immigrants to Israel, and the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs would mark the day as well with a special debate.
Several bills to that effect were proposed by MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Miki Zohar (Likud) and Avraham Neguise (Likud), chairman of the committee. These proposals were merged into one bill.
”The essence of the State of Israel is the connection between the Jewish nation and its land, and they are the bride and groom in this wedding,” Neguise said. ”The return of the Jewish nation to its land – that is the essence of Israel`s existence.”
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The seventh of Cheshvan was chosen due to its proximity to the Shabbat on which the ”Lech Lecha” Torah portion is read, in which God commands Abraham to leave his home and go to the Land of Israel.
MK Zohar wanted to designate the 10th of Nissan as ”Aliyah Day,” as this date is mentioned in the Book of Jehoshua as the day Joshua first led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Land of Israel following their exodus from Egypt. Zohar said he agreed to move the date to the seventh of Cheshvan because the 10th of Nissan is closer to Passover and both schools and the Knesset are usually in recess at that time. Zohar`s suggestion that ”Aliyah Day” be marked on the 10th of Nissan only at the President`s Residence was not accepted. He criticized MK Sofa Landver of Yisrael Beitenu over her objection to the proposal, claiming it stemmed from an ”anti-religious” policy led by the Yisrael Beitenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman. In response, Landver said marking ”Aliyah Day” on two separate days was ”idiotic,” adding ”there should be one day during which all the institutions mention the Aliyah process, its difficulties and the immigrants` contribution to the State of Israel, including its culture and economy.”
Towards the end of the meeting, Committee Chairman Neguise praised the airlifting of 19 Jews from Yemen to Israel in a secret operation, but also demanded that the Jewish Agency work to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel as well.