Yom Aliyah—a Day to Celebrate the Jewish Return

By: Howard Flower, ICEJ Aliyah Director

Starting on Wednesday evening, April 17, Israel will celebrate Yom Aliyah, or Aliyah Day, which marks the historic return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland in modern times. This annual holiday is timed to recall the first mass return of Jews to Israel when Joshua led the Hebrew children across the River Jordan with signs and wonders.


This year, Yom Aliyah is particularly meaningful for Jews from Ethiopia, France, and South Africa who are currently beginning their lives anew in Israel. In recent weeks, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has sponsored flights for 108 Jewish immigrants arriving in Israel from these countries. Even today, April 16, 2024, twelve Jews from France and four Jews from South Africa are landing in Israel on Aliyah flights sponsored by the Christian Embassy.

Growing antisemitism and violence against Jews in France have caused more French Jews to decide to relocate to Israel. No longer feeling secure or accepted in France, they are choosing to build new lives in the Jewish State.


Starting in March, the ICEJ began sponsoring regular Aliyah flights for French Jews moving to Israel in several different groups before Passover. The group flights from Paris are being coordinated by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and JAFI Official Danielle Mor warmly thanked the Christian Embassy for its “critical support of Aliyah” at this time. She also noted that many more French Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel in the coming months. In fact, a recent Aliyah expo for medical professionals in France and Belgium drew over 450 Jewish doctors and dentists interested in resettling in Israel.

Meanwhile, South African Jews are also increasingly seeing Israel as a haven as their country deals with high crime rates, financial instability, and rising hostility toward Israel. Although leaving South Africa is not an easy decision given their lengthy history there, more are concluding that Israel is where they truly belong. This pattern is expected to continue this year, and these South African Jews, along with the new French immigrants, have much to contribute to Israeli society.


For Ethiopian Jews, returning to Israel has been a dream for centuries. Facing significant obstacles, thousands have courageously journeyed to Israel in recent years with support from ICEJ, which has a long-standing commitment to supporting the Ethiopian Aliyah. Since it was resumed by Israeli government decision in 2015, we have sponsored Aliyah flights for 3,225 out of the 7,514 Jewish immigrants who have made the journey from Ethiopia to Israel, including 375 last year alone.

In late March 2023, a group of 61 Ethiopian Jews who had been rescued from tribal clashes in Gondar last summer were finally able to fulfill their dreams by reuniting with family on Israeli soil. The arrivals hall at Ben Gurion Airport was filled with much joy and celebration as close relatives separated for many years eagerly embraced in tears.

Yet the historic return of Ethiopian Jewry is still not complete. A recent Knesset press release indicated that there are currently an additional 1,226 Ethiopian Jews who are eligible for Aliyah, and ICEJ is ready with your help to assist with flights for this next group of Ethiopian Olim (newcomers). We hope to help with the more than 1,000 expected to come home during 2024.


Also of great note, since the Gaza war began last October, nearly 9,000 Jewish immigrants have arrived in Israel from Russia and other former Soviet republics. Over the past few years, these Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants have comprised around 80% of the worldwide Aliyah. ICEJ has been asked by JAFI to help fund flights for hundreds of these immigrants in the coming months and support pre-Aliyah activities for Russian-speaking Olim to help prepare them for life in Israel. For over 40 years now, the ICEJ has been helping support Aliyah from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and other FSU countries.

In fact, since our founding in 1980, the ICEJ has assisted more than 185,000 Jews in making Aliyah to Israel, coming from over 50 nations in all. Some came in mass migrations like the wave of Soviet Aliyah in the 1990s, while others had to make “quiet Aliyah” from nations like Cuba and Iran.

We wholeheartedly support Aliyah because the covenant that God established with the Hebrew patriarchs thousands of years ago remains in effect today. God promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:8; 28:13–15; Psalm 105:8–12; Acts 7:4–5), and that promise is being confirmed yet again today as we witness Jews from around the globe returning to Eretz Israel even during wartime.

This remarkable demonstration of God’s faithfulness to His promises to the Jewish people serves as a sign to the world, yet Israel continues to face intense criticism and hostility in the international arena. Thus, His coming judgment of the nations will be just, and thankfully, they will never be able to break the bond again between the Jews and their historic homeland (Amos 9:15).

As Israel embraces Olim from Ethiopia, France, South Africa, and many other countries on Yom Aliyah, Aliyah Day 2024, it is an occasion for joy and awe in God’s amazing handiwork in restoring the Jewish nation in their own land. We applaud the courage and resolve of these immigrants who have given up much to achieve their goal of living in their ancient homeland. May the new arrivals be blessed as they establish roots in the promised land, and may all Israel be encouraged by this continual reuniting of the Jewish people back where they belong.

Yom Aliyah is a good time to put your support behind the great prophetic ingathering of Israel. Your donation will support our current efforts to bring more Jews back from France, Ethiopia, South Africa, and many Russian-speaking countries.