Board: make Gilad Shalit your Fifth Son

Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit

A new Pesach appeal encouraging families to remember the plight of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is being promoted in Britain.

It is hoped that the Gilad Shalit – Fifth Son project will result in Jewish families using part of their Sedarim to pray for him and other Israeli troops.

This will be Gilad Shalit's fourth Pesach in captivity since he was kidnapped by Hamas on June 25, 2006.

The project, which is supported by the Board of Deputies, was conceived by American high school movement StudentsUnite4Israel.

During the part of the Seder which focuses on the Four Sons, there is also mention of a fifth son, who is not present and cannot share in the service.

In the 19th century the fifth son was portrayed as the son of Jews persecuted in Czarist Russia, and in the 1940s as the millions who perished during the Holocaust.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: "For our generation, that fifth son is Gilad Shalit and all the captive soldiers who are absent from their families' Seder tables."

The Board has emailed deputies copies of two pictures which can be printed out to create a "Fifth Son Card" and placed in a Hagaddah. It features an image of Sergeant Shalit and the history of his kidnapping.

Yuli Edelstein, Israel's diaspora minister, said: "The Gilad Shalit-Fifth Son Project is a wonderful awareness effort. Encouraging Jews all over the world to place a card into their haggadot calling for the release of Gilad is a great act to ensure sustained momentum on his behalf."

Reports in the Israeli media on Wednesday claimed that Hamas might be considering handing over a new tape showing Sgt Shalit, following a request from the International Red Cross. The last footage released of him was in October 2009. Israel freed 19 Palestinian prisoners in return.

Last updated: 12:53pm, April 14 2011