The ‘Empty Chair’ Initiative: Remember our Captives

Pesach is full of customs, foods and symbols that encourage us to remember and commemorate the Exodus from Egypt for generations. This year, when we sit down by the Seder table and praise Hashem for releasing us from Egypt and redeeming us, as we pour another glass of wine and leave a place for Eliyahu the prophet, as our children innocently ask “what is different tonight from all other nights” – we will add another question. Where are our kidnapped brothers and sisters?

One hundred and thirty three abductees have been held captive by the worst of our enemies for over six months. Frightened and starving, trembling and cut off in the dark, underground tunnels, they sit with broken hearts, waiting to see their families, hear their children and sit around the seder table and experience real freedom.

This year, when all of us, Jews in Israel and communities in the Diaspora celebrate the Seder night, as we praise our freedom and enjoy it with our families, we will add one chair to the Seder table, an empty chair – a symbol of the incompleteness of this holiday, a sign that will remind us all that even on this night, one hundred and thirty three abductees are still being held captive.

I call on you, heads of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, leaders, rabbis and families, to join the ‘Empty Chair’ initiative on the upcoming Seder night, to remember who we are still missing on this night and hope for the safe return home of the abductees.

Just as we were privileged to observe the mitzvot of the holiday, to remember and celebrate our exodus from Egypt and being a free people in our country, so to we will remember the kidnapped, we will pray for the complete recovery of the wounded and for the victory of our soldiers in the long war for our real and lasting freedom.

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