Seats around Passover table to be left vacant this year for Gaza hostages

The initiative was launched by the Board of Deputies of British Jews


People walk past a large table depicting deteriorating food and drink conditions as part of an art installation commemorating the hostages held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip (Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Hundreds of seats will be left vacant at Seder tables this year in honour of the  134 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

The special “Seder Seat for a Hostage” campaign, launched on Tuesday morning 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.”

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