New York, April 18th, 2016 – The European Coalition for Israel through its Forum for Cultural Diplomacy and the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN co-hosted a historic Passover Seder at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday. Later this week, Israel will face a hostile Resolution in the Security Council. The Draft Resolution to be presented calls Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and in other disputed territories “illegal” and places a one-year timeframe on reaching a final and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Resolution could come up for a vote in the Security Council on Friday, the 22nd of April, which is also the eve of the Jewish Passover.
At the beginning of this pivotal week, UN ambassadors from some 30 nations came together to celebrate what is believed to be the first official Passover Seder inside the UN headquarters in New York. Going through the Passover text, or Haggadah as it is known in Hebrew, Rabbi Elie Abadie explained the universal messages of Passover (Pesach), while other participating ministers and UN diplomats read selected passages from the Haggadah text.
Both Rabbi Abadie and the Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN Danny Danon spoke about their own experiences of exodus as their respective families had to flee Egypt and Syria after the creation of the Jewish State. “The universal message of Passover is that God saved us and made us free. This means that every person is entitled to freedom,” Rabbi Abadie said. His own family received this message of freedom in the form of a telex on the day of Passover in 1971, when Mexico granted them refugee status, after they had been living as stateless people in Lebanon for many years. Today, he serves as the Chief Rabbi at the Edmond Safra Synagogue in New York.
As Israel is faced with a critical Resolution in the UN Security Council later this week, ECI Director for UN affairs, Gregory Lafitte, reiterated the story of Esther, which took place during Passover in Persia 2372 years ago. Esther called for a fast in response to Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jewish people. “Also today, there are reasons to fast as we witness the resurgence of various forms of antisemitism around the world,” he said. He also cited an old Jewish saying, which summarizes Jewish history by stating, “They tried to kill us; we survived; now let us eat.”
In his brief speech, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell mentioned the Exodus as an epic event that has inspired social reformers throughout history, such as the civil rights movement in the US in the 1960’s as well as the process of decolonization in Africa and other parts of the world. “Passover is a powerful reminder of how our fate as individuals and nations is ultimately beyond the politics of this world, as we look back at the intervention on behalf of the Jewish people in the Exodus. This is a relevant message for Israel and the nations still to this day,” he said.
The Passover Seder was part of the ongoing work of the European Coalition for Israel at the UN to promote the Jewish holidays in order to honour the Jewish people and their invaluable contribution to world culture and peace. Last year, ECI’s efforts resulted in the recognition of Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday.
Passover officially begins at sunset on Friday.