Photo Credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel
Ethiopian Jewish women on their way to make Aliyah baking matzahs, April 2022.

The Jewish Agency for Israel will hold a special Passover seder for hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who are staying at the organization’s Aliyah processing centers in the region and are preparing for their departure to Israel. In addition, The agency will also host special seders in Ethiopia for future olim.

The organization’s main seder event for Ukrainian refugees will take place in Warsaw and will be led by the organization’s Director of the Aliyah and Absorption Unit and Deputy Director-General Shay Felber. The Jewish Agency’s emissaries will also host parallel seders in Romania and Hungary for future olim who are currently taking refuge there and awaiting their flights to Israel.

Jewish Agency volunteers in Budapest planning the Seder, holding the Haggadahs specially prepared for the Ukrainian Olim, April 2022. / The Jewish Agency for Israel

The Jewish Agency worked with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library and Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption to translate and publish Haggadot in Russian. The Haggadot will contain the classic cornerstones of the Passover story, including traditional songs, and are written to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Acting Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive and World Zionist Organization Chairman Yaakov Hagoel said, “The story of Passover is one of leaving the bondage of slavery and becoming free. Today, Ukrainian olim are experiencing what our ancestors went through when they were slaves in Egypt. They, too, know the deep yearning for freedom and safety in the Promised Land. We’re delighted to give the immigrants this opportunity to celebrate Passover before their Aliyah, as bringing them to Israel safely is what The Jewish Agency is committed to doing.”

Ethiopian Jews on their way to make Aliyah baking matzahs, April 2022. / The Jewish Agency for Israel

Meanwhile, in Gondar and Addis Ababa, the Jewish Agency will hold a seder for thousands of future Ethiopian olim. The Passover seders in Ethiopia are being conducted as the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption are set to resume their Tzur Israel initiative, which is being resumed following the decision made by the Government of Israel.

The preparations for these seders in Ethiopia were a tremendous undertaking, overseen by the community’s Rabbi Menachem Waldman, and will include 100,000 baked matzahs made from 3,000 kilograms of flour locally ground by the community, 400 liters of raisin wine, and a charoset recipe unique to Ethiopian culture that includes dates, bananas, ginger, sugar, and wine.

The Gondar seder will be led by the former leader of the community, Metiku Yalew, a Jewish educator who made Aliyah in 2001. In Addis Ababa, the seder will be led by Fekadu Maru, the community’s local Jewish educator. Seder leaders will be assisted by volunteers from Israel and cantors in the community. Those seders are also being supported by the Dutch organization Christians for Israel (CVI).

The above-mentioned seders will be conducted in addition to the dozens that are being held worldwide thanks to Jewish Agency emissaries around the world. They will help organize seders in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa, Latin America, North America, and the former Soviet Union. As for olim in absorption centers in Israel, they are preparing for their seders with the organization’s assistance.

“From Ukraine to Ethiopia, we’re seeing a modern-day exodus which proves that the Zionist dream continues to be fulfilled,” Hagoel added.


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