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Israel Enjoys Passover; Premier Attends Seder in Air Force Hangar

March 30, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel celebrated Passover joyously, the observance being marked only by the knowledge that Russian Jewry is suffering a lack of matzoh, engineered by the Soviet authorities. The situation of Soviet Jewry was reflected in hundreds of Israeli homes where a vacant chair was placed at each seder table, symbolically reminding Israelis of the sad fate of the Jews in Russia.

Undeterred by the constantly lurking Arab dangers, Israeli army kitchens had prepared festive Passover meals, while chaplains conducted service in every Israeli army camp and frontier post. At one Israeli Air Force hangar, 1, 200 soldiers gathered for one of the biggest mass sedorim. Attending that feast were Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and his family; Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff of all of Israel’s defense forces; and Gen. Ezer Weizmann, commander of Israel’s Air Force. There, the services were conducted by Brig. Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of Israel’s army.

Foreign guests were entertained at sedorim in scores of Kibbutzim and other settlements. In many of the kibbutizm, the traditional “omer” celebration–marking the ingathering of the spring’s first harvest–was observed with songs and dances. The second seder was conducted in Tel Aviv mainly for tourists from abroad in many of the large hotels. Nearly 1, 000 tourists gathered at one mass sederat the Sheraton Hotel, where the services were conducted by cantor Moshe Koussevitsky.

Tourists began flocking into Israel late last week. Ships brought thousands to Haifa from the United States and Europe. At Lydda Airport, nearly 3, 000 foreigners arrived aboard 25 planes in one day just prior to Passover. Hotels were crowded to capacity, and many tourists had to be sent to private homes.

Every road in Israel was crowded with buses, jitneys, taxicabs and private cars. The Egged Bus Company here announced just before Passover that it expected to handle about 1,500, 000 passengers, including not only tourists but also Israelis visiting friends and relatives away from their homes. The markets were well stocked with everything needed for the Passover observance. A rainy year had resulted in huge supplies of fruits and vegetables at moderate prices. Meat and fish were also available in adequate quantities, and there are ample supplies of matzoth.

The security forces, alert as ever in spite of the holiday, killed four Arab infiltrators who had crossed Israel’s frontiers last night. One would-be infiltrator was shot near Mishmar Ayalon, in the Latrun area, close to the Jordanian border. Three others were killed when an Israeli border patrol intercepted another group of infiltrators in the southern Negev.

(Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim’s office disclosed today that it has received a cable of Passover greetings from Moscow Chief Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin.)

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