Passover has always been a family holiday, and gathering around the holiday table with close and distant relatives has become a symbol of the holiday.
But some chose to spend the Seder night as far away as possible.
One is Rivka Mamon, a 19-year-old from Jerusalem who came to Sydney, Australia, as part of her national service in the Bat-Ami association. Rivka serves as an emissary in the Jewish community in the city, and among her other occupations there, she volunteers at the community's Jewish school. She is preparing to have a Passover Seder that is entirely different from the ones she is used to: "At school, we held a mock Seder because many children do not experience the Seder at home, and it is important that they understand the meaning and experience it in a fun and positive way. We also conducted experiential lessons during their Judaism classes about the various customs and the importance of every detail done during the Seder," says Rivka.
Rivka says that, of course, she will spend the Passover itself far from home, with the Jewish community in Sydney, but despite the distance, she is not afraid: "For the Seder itself, the amazing families of the community will host us, and since they receive us so well and take care of us I have no fear, but I'm just happy to be with them and experience a holiday that is so family-like. Of course, I will miss my family and our customs terribly during the holiday, but I know that this is one holiday, and it will be special in a different way."
Another 19-year-old Jerusalemite, Shifra Kalman, is also in Australia on behalf of the national service as part of the Bat-Ami association. She shares the decision to do service so far from home: "I wanted to go on this mission to connect with a part of our people that is so far away physically but is closest to us in our heart. Our job here is to make them feel as close as possible, and I think we succeed in doing that."
Regarding the Passover Seder, Shifra says: "There is an amazing community here, and although I am sure I will miss my usual Seder night with family's customs, it is a great privilege to be here with the wonderful community here to help make the Seder accessible to the little children and to experience a different Seder."
Rivka and Shifra agree that the distance from home does not affect the heart, and the feeling is that even though they are so far from home, the warmth and connection with the Jewish community help them feel as close as possible because we are all, in the end, one united people.