A recent group of hundreds arrives in Israel on aliyah. (Rachael Cerrotti/Flash90) (Photo: Rachael Cerrotti/Flash90)
Aliyah

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National Aliyah Day commemorates the day that the Jewish People crossed the Jordan River into Israel. It was our first national aliyah.

The Knesset introduced a new bill this week to mark the Hebrew date of the 10th of Nisan as “National Aliyah Day,” a holiday celebrating Jewish immigration to Israel. The purpose of Aliyah Day is to “realize the value and supreme importance of aliyah in the past, present and future to the strengthening of Israel from within.”

The Hebrew word for immigration to Israel is aliyah, which literally means to move upwards. It is also used to denote spiritual gain; for example, a person called to read from the Torah at synagogue receives an aliyah.

The Aliyah Day bill enjoys widespread support. Various parties in both the coalition and the opposition have thrown their weight behind it. The 10th of Nisan was selected because it is the date that the Jewish people crossed the Jordan River into Israel after the exodus from Egypt. The bill calls it the “first mass Aliyah in history.”

Famous Immigrants Past and Present

Aliyah Day

Founding Father David ben Gurion immigrated to Israel at the age of 20. (Photo: Israeli Knesset)

The most well-known immigrant is David Ben-Gurion, who came to Israel at the age of 20 and became the first prime minister of the Jewish state. Seven of the first eight prime ministers of Israel were immigrants, as were seven out of nine presidents, including current head of state Shimon Peres.

One of every four members of the current Israeli parliament made aliyah.

Nefesh B’Nefesh, a non-profit organization that promotes, encourages, and facilitates aliyah, recently announced the names of the six immigrants who won its newly-launched Bonei Zion Prize, “an award recognizing outstanding Anglo olim – veteran and recent – who encapsulate the spirit of modern-day Zionism by contributing in a significant way towards the State of Israel.”

The winners were all immigrants from the United States.

What Makes Living in Israel so Important for a Jew

Living in the Land of Israel is one of the foundations of the Jewish faith.

Of the 613 commandments in the Torah, 26 can be performed only in the Land of Israel. Maimonides, the greatest Jewish sage in the past 1,000 years, equates living in Israel to performing all of the commandments in the Torah. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov states that every four steps a Jew walks in the Land of Israel is the fulfillment of a Divine commandment.

More than 25,000 Americans, Canadians, and British Jews, as well as others from around the world, have moved to Israel in the last decade.

Author: David Fink, contributor, United with Israel
Date: Mar. 26, 2014