Herzog to host lone soldiers, Ukrainian refugees for Passover Seder

Dinner table to feature Judaica by Israeli designers; ‘Mutual responsibility must be not just an abstract aspiration,’ president says in a greeting to world Jewry

The traditional Passover 'Seder' table at the President's Residence in Jerusalem for 2022. (Courtesy)
The traditional Passover 'Seder' table at the President's Residence in Jerusalem for 2022. (Courtesy)

President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog will host a traditional Passover dinner at the President’s Residence for the first time on Friday evening.

Together with their three sons, the couple will be joined for the festive meal, known as a “Seder,” by lone soldiers, new immigrants who escaped the war in Ukraine, and US Ambassador Tom Nides.

The Seder table will be laid out in the traditional manner and will feature Judaica by Israeli designers, according to a statement issued by the President’s Office, and the Haggadahs to be used at the Seder were purchased at Enoshop, the store of Enosh—The Israeli Mental Health Association.

The lone soldiers expected to attend Friday’s Seder include Sergeant Glen Chaves, a lone soldier from Costa Rica serving in the IDF Kfir Brigade, who made aliyah because of his grandfather’s special connection to Israel and family’s conversion, and Cpl. Iara Lerner Turchinsky, a lone soldier who immigrated from Argentina two years ago and serves in a canine unit in the Israeli Air Force.

The Ivanova family from Ukraine will also join the presidential Seder table. Ilena, the mother of the family, fled Odesa together with her two children, nine-year-old Vadim and two-year-old Yevgeny. Their father, Aleksander, was forced to stay behind in Ukraine, as men of military age are barred from leaving. The family currently lives in accommodation organized by the Jewish Agency to help new immigrants from Ukraine.

Ahead of Passover, Herzog recorded a special greeting addressed to Jewish communities around the world.

“[Passover marks] our transformation from a group of individuals into our own nation, one people,” the president said.

“With the passage of time, it becomes increasingly challenging to preserve this mindset of one people, of unity. Yet, with the shift of generations, cementing our collective identity, strengthening our sense of peoplehood, and rebuilding our unity becomes that much more important, in fact critical, for our own future,” he added.

“As president of the State of Israel, I have made it a top priority to find new avenues through which to deepen the bonds between the Jewish people and the Jewish national home,” Herzog said.

“Our worldview and politics may differ greatly, but we cannot forgo the ability or the willingness to gather around the Seder table as one big, beautiful family.

“On the national level, as our skies open up, we are excited once again to welcome you here in Israel, your home away from home.”

On Wednesday, Herzog hosted around 200 Arab Israeli public officials, religious and civil society leaders and members of the security forces for an annual Iftar dinner, the traditional meal to break the Ramadan fast.

President Isaac Herzog with overseas diplomats at an Iftar meal he hosted in Jerusalem, on April 13, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)

Some foreign diplomats also attended the event at the President’s Residence in the capital, including the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates.

“The month of Ramadan, the most beautiful and moving month in the Hijri calendar, reveals another aspect of the beautiful face of the Islamic spirit. This is a month of humility and piety, of moderation, of compassion and charity, of faith in God, of family and of community,” Herzog said.

“Even as a non-Muslim, I feel a profound sense of identification and connection with the special spirit of this month, which we mark here tonight,” he added.

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