[Originally published in 2016 and updated slightly for 2022]
Today millions of American Jews woke up with the sense of excitement that only happens when two essentially contradictory holidays take place on the same day, like Hanukkah and Xmas, or Passover and Easter.
It so happens that on the day the United States is celebrating its Election Day, Israelis are joyously marking Aliyah Day. And should the results of today’s elections drive US Jews to make Aliyah, then the connection is absolutely self-explanatory.
[Update: 2022 – Israel is holding elections today, while the US has another week to go. So on this Aliyah day, Israelis get the excitement of the day off, yet another reason to make Aliyah.]
Yom HaAliyah-Aliyah Day is an Israeli national holiday celebrated annually on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. The day was initially proposed and the bill written up for the Knesset by none other than Hebron spokesman Yishai Fleisher, which is also the date that he and his wife Malkah made Aliyah.
This 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 7th of Cheshvan, to allow the Babylonian Jews who just celebrated in Jerusalem to return home before it started to rain.
Strangely enough, the Knersset legislation known as the Aliyah Day Act 5776-2016 states that on the 7th of Cheshvan the country will celebrate the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel on the 10th of Nissan. We called up the Knesset Aliyah Committee, and blessed Tzipi, who picked up the phone with “Happy Aliyah Day,” which absolutely made her day. As to the discrepancy between the two dates, she 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 Cheshvan 7, when everybody is still fresh and full of zest at the start of the season.
Also, Cheshvan 7 usually falls on the week of Parshat Lech-Lecha, in which our biblical patriarch Abraham was told by God to leave his home and his family and go up to the Land of Israel.
So, if you want to show up your Israeli friends today, just wish them a Happy Aliyah day and watch them squirm…