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Seder rite urged for captive soldiers

A major Jewish umbrella organization is asking Jews to leave an empty seat at their seders to honor captive Israeli soldiers.

 

“This week, while Jews around the world sit down at the seder table with family and friends to celebrate Passover – the festival of our freedom – eight Israeli soldiers remain missing or in captivity, some for more than 25 years,” June Walker and Malcolm Hoenlein, the chair and executive vice chairman, respectively, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, wrote in a statement.

“As we remember the exodus of our ancestors from the bondage of ancient Egypt, let us also remember those who fought for the freedom and independence of modern Israel, especially as we prepare to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state.”

The eight Israeli soldiers the umbrella group noted are Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, Zecharia Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, Ron Arad and Guy Hever.

 

“Jewish tradition teaches that freeing captives is a religious duty of paramount importance, so our prayers must be accompanied by actions,” Walker and Hoenlein said. “We appeal to Jews and freedom-loving people everywhere to highlight the plight of the MIAs in their organizations and synagogues, and to encourage public officials to make humanitarian appeals on their behalf.

 

“As we conclude the seder with the hope of next year in Jerusalem, let us pray that these, men, too, will be reunited there with their families.”

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