Nor did I, my brothers, my servants, or the guards following me ever take off our clothes, [or] each his weapon, even at the water.” Nehemiah 4:17 (The Israel Bible™)
Yom HaAliyah is an Israeli national holiday established to acknowledge immigration to the Jewish state as a core value of the State of Israel, and honor the ongoing contributions of immigrants to Israeli society.
On a daily basis, olim (immigrants to Israel) make an impact on Israel, working in every sector of Israeli society – from politicians and CEOs, artists and IDF commanders.
Among the young people who return to modern Israel to build it up as they have for centuries, many serve in the IDF as lone soldiers, soldiers without family in the country. Their contribution, in particular, should be acknowledged on Yom HaAliyah.
While all immigrants to Israel experience some level of challenge living in a new country and adapting to a new culture and language, lone soldiers often experience even greater challenges, also having to adapt to army life as their families live thousands of miles away.
“Yom HaAliyah is the perfect time to honor the contributions that olimmake on the Jewish State, and we should take special care in thanking the immigrants who have come to serve in the IDF,” said Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, the official welfare fund of the IDF. “Lone soldiers,” Grossman posed to Breaking Israel News, “are the ones ensuring the existence of the modern Jewish state, all while helping to fulfill the age-old Biblical mandate to settle the land.”
Indeed, long before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Biblical mandate of Kibbutz Galuyot (the in-gathering of the Jewish People from the four corners of the earth back to their homeland) was a core conviction and focus of prayer for millions of Jews around the world. Several millennia later, aliyah became the foundational principle of the modern Zionist movement, which brought Jews to the Land then controlled by the Ottomans and British as early as the late-19th century.
Today, Yom HaAliyah is celebrated on the 10th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar, as it was on this date in the year 2488 that the first mass aliyah in history took place, when the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Land of Israel.
Led by Joshua, the people of Israel carried the Holy Ark on dry land across the river as the waters split, and the tribes erected a monument of twelve stones to commemorate this historic and miraculous event.
According to Jay M. Shultz, President of the Am Yisrael Foundation, the driving force behind the creation of Yom HaAliyah, “Since that original beautiful act of Zionism, the Jewish People have been striving to come home and build up this Land.”
Shultz initiated the holiday with the goal of increasing aliyah awareness amongst Jews from around the world. Working tirelessly with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Knesset in 2012 to make his vision a reality, the bill was signed by various parties in the Knesset – left, right and center – and became an official holiday on June 21, 2016.
“It is time for every Jew to come home, and just as Joshua led an army of dedicated volunteers into the Holy Land, today’s lone soldiers carry that noble mission with them,” he told Breaking Israel News.
Shultz, an immigrant to Israel himself, believes that Yom HaAliyah will enable Jews “to connect the Biblical, historical truth of Joshua crossing the Jordan to our modern practical reality.” He told Breaking Israel News, “Especially when Jews worldwide are celebrating Passover, and remembering the Exodus, they should take to heart that the final destination of leaving Egypt was entering the Land of Israel. The oft-repeated phrase ‘L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim– Next Year in Jerusalem’ should not be said in vain. There has never been an easier time in history for a Jew to live in Israel. It is time for every Jew to come home.”
In order to ease that process for lone soldiers, Shultz is working on a new website that hopes to attract more young Jews from around the world to join the IDF.
Also relating to the noble mission that lone soldiers carry, Grossman expressed his gratitude towards their dedication on Yom HaAliyah and ahead of the Passover holiday. “As we celebrate Yom HaAliyah just five days before the Jewish people sit down at their Passover tables to celebrate the Jewish people’s journey to freedom, we must remember not to take this freedom for granted,” Grossman said. “It is due to the dedication of IDF soldiers, many who have enlisted from abroad by choice, that the Jewish people can be free in their own land.”
With donations from people from around the world, LIBI USA provides Israel’s soldiers with support, education and assistance to help ease the burden of their service. Ahead of Passover, LIBI USA launched a crowdfunding campaign to provide Passover Seders for lone soldiers who do not have family in Israel with which to celebrate the holiday.
On Yom HaAliyah, in particular, and ahead of Passover, LIBI USA expresses its gratitude to the many lone soldiers who made aliyah and joined the IDF to help build Israel.
Written in collaboration with LIBI USA.