Friday, September 09, 2005

Yom HaAliyah - A New Jewish Holiday (Part 2)

In my last post, about the new American Jewish holiday, Arrival Day, I gave my reasoning behind rejecting such a holiday as inconsistent with Jewish tradition and beliefs. In response, my wife critiqued me for not having used the concept of Arrival Day for something positive, as opposed to merely criticizing the idea. After all, it's always easy to be critical of new ideas, the challenge is to find something positive in them, and build upon it.

On that note, I would like to present to you my suggestion for a new Jewish holiday, based on the concept of Arrival Day, to be known as Yom HaAliyah (National Aliyah Day).

What exactly is Yom HaAliyah?

* Yom HaAliyah is a day which celebrates the Aliyah of millions of Jews from the 4 corners of the Earth to the Jewish State of Israel.

* Yom HaAliyah is a day which celebrates the undying will and spirit of the Jewish People throughout the 2,000 year Exile to return Home to the Land of Israel, as is expressed through Jewish tradition and heritage.

* Yom HaAliyah is a day which will focus on educating Jews both in Israel, as well as abroad, of the importance of Aliyah, and the fulfillment that it brings to one's Jewish life.

In Israel, education programming would be geared towards helping Jewish Israelis appreciate the significance of Aliyah to the future of the state of Israel, both in a demographic sense, as well as a spiritual one. Additionally, educational programming would be geared towards helping native Israelis understand the challenges and sacrifices involved in making Aliyah, in an effort to try and build a connection and understanding between both native Israelis and Olim Chadashim (new immigrants).

Additionally, on this day, all Jews who made Aliyah in the past year would be invited to a special ceremony lead by Jewish / political leaders throughout Israel in a gala celebration of Kibbutz HaGaluyot (the Ingathering of the Exiles).

In Jewish communities throughout the world, the educational message will be varied depending on the needs and circumstances of the particular community. Jewish communities will learn of stories of famous Jews, both past and present who in word and deed embodied the Jewish idea of Shivat Zion (the desire to return to Zion).

Additionally, Jewish communities will learn how they can find both personal and communal fulfillment in Israel, be it professionally, educationally, religiously, spiritually, or physically. Olim from their respective communities will return to their native communities to give 1st hand accounts of their lives in Israel.

I propose that Yom HaAliyah be celebrated annually on the 6th of Tammuz. On the 6th of Tammuz over 500 Jews made Aliyah from North America (with the generous assistance and support of Nefesh B'Nefesh), the largest contingent of North American Jews to make Aliyah in one day in Israel’s history. Granted, I may be partial, being a North American Oleh myself, to proposing a date connected to North American Aliyah, but I believe that this is a fitting date for a more central reason.

North American Aliyah represents Aliyah by choice. Jews who make Aliyah from North America are not fleeing from anti-Semitism or economic hardship. These are Jews who are leaving behind perfectly comfortable lives because they recognize that the only place where they can truly find fulfillment as Jews (both individually and nationally) is in the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. That, I believe, is the very message that Yom HaAliyah will seek to get across. Aliyah is not only for Jews who have nowhere else to go, but for Jews who want to take an active role in shaping the destiny and future of the Jewish People.

It seems I have turned over a new leaf. Arrival Day isn't such a bad idea after all, so long as we are celebrating the arrival and return of the Jewish People to their one and only true home - the Land and State of Israel.

Yom HaAliyah. It has a nice ring to it, no? Anyone else think so?



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