‘Leave a seat for a hostage at your Seder table’

Appeal to the community to remember those held captive in Gaza during the Festival of Freedom


An empty chair for hostage Michel Nisenbaum (Photo: Jane Prinsley)

In the run-up to Passover, the community is being urged to leave an empty seat at their Seder table un honour of the134 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

The “Seder Seat for a Hostage” campaign, launched by the Board of Deputies, urges individuals and families to set an extra place at their Seder table for one of the hostages still in captivity.

The Board stated: "At the Seder table, the youngest among us will ask the traditional Four Questions. But for many of us, there will be another question this Pesach, left unanswered.

“How can we discuss being redeemed from slavery, when Hamas still holds [over] 130 men, women and children in the most vile captivity? How can we celebrate our freedom, when our brothers and sisters are not free?”

A picture of one of the many hostages can be downloaded and printed via the Board’s website, and participants of the initiative are encouraged to share pictures of their laid Seder tables with the #SederSeatForAHostage hashtag.

Board President Marie van der Zyl described the initiative as “commemorating the Festival of Freedom, remembering those in captivity”.

She said: “As in ancient days, we call: ‘Let Our People Go.’ Jewish Muslim, Christian, or Buddhist, the hostages must all come home.

“We pray for their release and for this terrible conflict to come to an end with Hamas uprooted, so that Israelis and Palestinians can together build a better future. And when we recite the words: ‘Next year in Jerusalem’, we will be thinking of all those who are not with us for the Seder this year, hoping for their safe return.”

The calls were reiterated by Nivi Feldman from the UK branch of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, who said at a vigil to mark six months after October 7: “Take a picture; put it on a chair. Tie a yellow ribbon in a public place, so when the hostages come out, they will know we’ve been waiting.”

As the JC was going to press, a second vigil was due to take place in London, attended by the Chief Rabbi and other rabbinical leaders from across the community. Other vigils have been held in other UK cities, including Manchester and Edinburgh.

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