The seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, which this year falls out on America’s Election Day, was designated last year as Israel’s official “Yom Aliyah“, or Aliyah Day, a new national holiday which recognizes and celebrates all Jewish immigrants (olim) to Israel. Tuesday marked the first official observance of this day.
The Hebrew date in itself is a celebration of the unique connection that existed during the time of the Second Temple between the Jews of Israel and their brothers and sisters in the diaspora: the rainy season officially begins on the rabbinic calendar on Shmini Atzeret, the holiday that seals the string of high holidays from Rosh Hashanah until Sukkot. But the rabbis decreed that we not begin to actually pray for rain until the seventh of Cheshvan to allow the Babylonian Jews who had celebrated in Jerusalem to return home before it started to rain.
The Knesset legislation known as the Aliyah Day Act 5776-2016 states that on the seventh of Cheshvan, the country will celebrate the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel on the 10th of Nissan. As to the discrepancy between the two dates, the Knesset Aliyah Committee explained that the Cheshvan date was picked because the Nissan date falls on a school holiday, which is also a Knesset holiday, just before Passover. So they went with the seventh of Cheshvan, when everybody is still fresh and full of zest at the start of the season.
In addition, the date usually falls on the week of Parshat (weekly Torah portion) Lech-Lecha, in which biblical patriarch Abraham was told by God to leave his home and his family and go up to the Land of Israel. Olim often identify deeply with this portion, as they too left their homes and families to return to the land.
With additional reporting by Breaking Israel News Staff