The hall before the Holiday
The hall before the HolidayShira Tana

Some 1,600 members of the Ethiopian community participated in the largest seder ceremony in Israel, which took place in Yaffo.

Rabbi of the community Rabbi Yehuda Sallah led the seder, with the help of some 80 volunteers from across Israel.

Gali and Haim Marciano from Elad in central Israel came with their 7 children to do the seder together with the immigrants. “It is an unusual experience. You really feel a type of exodus from Egypt,” Haim said. As someone who is used to our family seder, it was a really uplifting experience to celebrate the holiday with such a large group that went through, to a certain degree, and is still going through its own exodus from Egypt.”

“It was particularly exciting at those parts of the seder when that large group repeated word for word after Rabbi Sallah, and we all felt the meaning of the words ‘as one man with one heart.’ “Our table primarily consisted of women from one family and their children. You could feel very strongly how, despite the fact that the children have a much greater command of the language than the adults, everyone had a burning desire to take part in the seder. Our job as volunteers was basically to gently help where needed in order to allow the adults to fulfill the commandment of ‘And you shall tell your children,’ despite the language difficulties and the intergenerational gap that makes the matter a significant challenge for a good amount of the families,” Haim added.

During the evening, the volunteers held activities for the children which included a quiz and a costume reenactment of the exodus from Egypt.

“We are used to a certain seder during which we say everything and have our special customs,” Gali said. “We made a sort of compromise, but we got a lot more than we gave. We felt privileged to have participated and to be together with people who we are used to seeing as ‘the other’ but who, in reality, are our own flesh and blood. The scope of the activity, the organization, lodging for the volunteers, is just an exciting endeavor. I felt that the event not only honored the Ethiopian community, but the entire Nation of Israel.”

Rabbi Yehuda Sallah sounded emotional as he was asked to describe his feelings after the giant seder. “It was a special privilege to meet these quality people. I can only salute this quality group of people from all over Israel who decided to devote their seder to connection and immigrant absorption in the best sense. In the name of the Ethiopian community, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart those in whose merit this event was able to take place.”

photos: Aviv Hatorah