Ethiopian immigrants to Israel held “mock seders” in absorption centers throughout the country in an effort to learn about some of the religious and cultural traditions prior to their first Passover in Israel.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharasnksy, addressed a group of about 60 recent Ethiopian immigrants, on Monday night, at an absorption center in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion.
He of his experiences in a labor camp in the former Soviet Union and explained how he was forced to use water instead of win, and recite the Haggada from memory, in order to commemorate the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom.
His words epitomized the Jewish people’s journey of exile to redemption and explained how the nation has managed to keep tradition alive, even in the most dire of circumstances.
“I am sure that for you, like for me, this experience of celebrating the Seder will be one of feeling liberated, just as the Jewish People felt when they left Egypt,” he said.
After his release, he flew to Ethiopia to escort a group of Jews there on their flight to Israel.
The seder was also attended by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; Col. Zion Shankur, the highest-ranking Ethiopian in the Israel Defense Forces; Ambassador Belaynesh Zevadia, Israel’s first Ethiopia-born ambassador; and prominent Ethiopian-Israeli singer-songwriter Maski Shabiro, noted the JTA.
On Monday, Jewish Agency spokesman Haviv Rettig Gur explained that roughly 150 new immigrants from Ethiopia arrived in Israel last month, with another 200 expected this month.