An empty Seder table with 133 chairs for the hostages sends powerful message

‘This Pesach, I will feel as if I am held captive in Gaza with them’


Seder table installation outside Downing Street with 133 empty seats representing the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, six months after being taken on October 7, April 17, 2024 (Photo: Daniel Ben-David)

Hundreds of people have visited a poignant installation in London of a long Seder table with 133 empty chairs, representing the hostages held in Gaza.

The table was unveiled outside Downing Street and has now been moved to JW3, where it will remain until the end of April.

Each chair has a poster of an individual hostage, held captive since being abducted by Hamas on October 7. 

The seats include two highchairs for Ariel Bibas, 4, and his brother Kfir Bibas, who spent his first birthday in captivity, along with juice boxes instead of glasses of wine. Among the places is one for the oldest hostage, Shlomo Mantzur, who turned 86 in Gaza.

Co-organiser Nivi Feldman, from UK Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said the hostages “were dragged into Gaza into conditions no one should endure. The suffering they’ve experienced for six months now, no one should endure.

“The Jewish people are waiting for them to come back home. This Pesach, I know I will see myself as if I’m in Gaza today with them, and I will feel that a part of me is captive in Gaza.”

The Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis said at the unveiling: “At our Seder, a highlight is when we recognise that there are four types of Jewish children around the Seder table; the wise child, one who is bad, one who is simple, one who doesn’t even know how to ask. Throughout our history, we recognise that actually there’s always been a fifth Jewish person and that is the one who is not there.

“Through our history, there have been so many reasons why sadly some people have not been with us, and this year, for the saddest of reasons, we recognise that fifth Jewish person is the hostage. And there are so many of them.

“This Seder, we will be so saddened because members of our global Jewish family will be absent.”

Rabbi Mirvis, drawing attention to the installation, added: “Just look at this long Seder table. So many chairs, and it is so heart-breaking to see for some there is wine, for some there is grape juice. Some are tiny kids. What cruelty this is to hold them as captive.”

Shai Shojat, 44, nephew of hostage Michel Nisenbaum, also spoke outside Downing Street, and music was provided by singer Avi Kraus and pianist Asaf Flumendorf.

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