Author: Ido Ben Porat
The many bathers at Tel Aviv’s Gordon Beach rubbed their eyes on Monday at the sight of the guests who arrived from the sea to the beach.
Dozens of actors dressed as immigrants from Europe – Ma’apilim – reenacted the illegal immigration project through which about 100,000 people entered Israel before the establishment of the State.
Two ships hired for the event brought the actors adjacent to Gordon Beach. With the signal the “immigrants” disembarked from the boats onto rafts and accompanied by the Tel Aviv Sea Scouts, they reached the beach to the song Hevenu Shalom Aleichem.
Waiting on the beach were also real immigrants who arrived in Israel before the establishment of the State of Israel and watched the performance with their family members, including from the illegal immigrant ships Exodus, Enzo Sereni, and others.
Before the immigrants’ arrival, a large function took place on the beach, which was transformed into a nostalgic complex inspired by the story of clandestine immigration, with performances by actors who told the story of the immigrants who had endured severe hardships.
World Zionist Organization Deputy and Acting Chairman Yaakov Hagoel said: “We grew up on the heroic stories of illegal immigration to Israel, and now we’ve been able to convey this experience in a real way. The illegal immigration project is an important element in the history of the State of Israel and the contribution of the immigrants to its establishment is significant.
“Those Ma’apilim suffered hardships of the journey, all in order to finally reach the Promised Land – the Land of Israel. The story of illegal immigration is a symbol of Zionism, the heritage and values of our love for our land – the realization of the Zionist vision,” added Hagoel.