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Israel Celebrates Passover in Gayest Fashion; Prays for Jews in Russia

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A festive Israel celebrated Passover this year in gayest fashion, except for one somber thought that permeated virtually every seder, public or private. A special prayer, composed by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Issar Untermann, dedicated to “Jews in the suffering lands outside Israel,” had been dedicated to Russian Jewry.

At many of the sedorim, one chair had been left vacant, symbolically reserved for the absent Russian Jew. At many of the feasts, the head of the table recited this benediction: “May the Russian Jews, too, reach Jerusalem next year.”

Aside from this note of gravity, Israelis, and many thousands of tourists who had flocked to Israel to spend the Season of Liberation here, celebrated the feast in a plentiful atmosphere. Food supplies were adequate all over Israel, and prices were reasonable. Despite a feeling of austerity, due to a threatening trend of inflation, prices of Passover necessities had not risen as a whole.

In addition to the rites conducted in private homes, many thousands of Israelis, augmented by foreign visitors, flocked to public ceremonies conducted in hotels, many public halls, at kibbutzim and in army camps. Special arrangements had been made for members of the diplomatic corps, nearly all of whom had been invited to sit in at sedorim conducted in private homes.

President Zalman Shazar attended a seder at a rest home run by the Kupath Cholim, the Histadrut health service, in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Prime Minister and Mrs. Levi Eshkol attended a seder at Kibbutz Degania Beth. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s chief of staff, attended the main army seder at an armored force base. In all army units, a specially-revised Haggadah included prayers stressing the spirit of freedom.

Israel’s international airport at Lydda had its busiest day ever, yesterday, on the eve of Passover, as many aircraft brought both tourists and Israelis coming home for the holiday. The Israel Tourist Corporation estimated that 11,000 tourists had come to Israel for Passover, while many thousands of Israelis had arrived to join their families here.

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