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Unforgettable Seder on Yam-Suf

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I want to tell you about the most special Seder of my life. In 1982, I served in the IDF in a hesder yeshiva that combines army and Torah study. Before Pesach, the soldiers of the Hesder go to IDF bases to kosher the military kitchens for Passover and to arrange the Seder for the soldiers at the base.

That year, I was sent to organize the Passover at the southernmost point of the State of Israel: the island of Tiran. (Today the island of Tiran is no longer in Israel's possession and was returned to Egypt in the peace agreement). The soldiers who served on the island of Tiran could only reach him on a special flight from Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai, and I arrived at the island of Tiran by special a helicopter.

There were about twenty soldiers on the island of Tiran, whose job was to guard the communications and the naval radar installations on the island. Every soldier on the island had a four-hour guard, and the rest of the day the soldiers spent in snorkeling and diving. The beaches of Tiran Island are amazing in their maritime wealth and are considered one of the most beautiful diving spots in the world. Who were the soldiers? Kibbutzniks, city dwellers, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, veteran soldiers and soldiers who only recently immigrated to Israel. When I met everyone on the first evening in the dining room I asked myself: how I could hold one Passover seder when the background of each of the soldiers was so different from each other?.

To my surprise, despite the hard work, everyone wanted to participate in Operation Passover. When the seder came, I suggested that everyone read a passage from the Haggadah, tell us about the Seder in his family and what Pesach means to him. Despite the great distance from our family, there was a strong family atmosphere around the Seder table. Despite the great differences between us all and although we did not know each other very well, The Seder night united us all into one family. When we ate the matzot, drank the four cups, and told the wonderful story of the Exodus from Egypt, the feeling was, עם ישראל חי "The people of Israel are alive!"

When Shalom a new immigrant from Argentina shared his thoughts about Pesach he said: "I must admit that although my family is far from Judaism, and although I do not celebrate the holidays, I feel a deep connection to Passover. The fact that every Jew in the world reads this night one text, eats the same menu, remembers the difficult moments and the great moments in our shared history and passes it on, Where  I, too, am part of it gives me an inspiring feeling of deep connection to my people and my heritage

And so, on the island of Tiran, at the point not far away from where the story of the Exodus began, near the seashore that was divided into two by the splitting of the Red Sea, I felt the special significance of the miraculous journey of millennias of the Jewish history. Only with the ability to return every year to the moment when our nation was born and to tell this amazing  story to ourself and our children we are capable of overcoming the difficulties and challenges to our existence.

I would like to wish you and your family a happy and kosher holiday, a holiday from which we will draw strength and inspiration to continue the journey of of the Jewish people.