New York, April 17th, 2019 – UN ambassadors and senior diplomats from around the world came together at the UN headquarters in New York for a traditional mock Passover Seder to learn and reflect on the message of the “Exodus” as Jews around the world were preparing for Passover which begins on Friday. A mock Seder is an abbreviated version of the Seder which can be celebrated ahead of Passover.
At the event, which was co-hosted by the Israeli Mission to the UN and the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, the diplomats were reminded of how the Jewish nation was born some 3500 years ago through what may be described as one of the most dramatic and fascinating stories of national liberation of all times ─ the “Exodus out of Egypt”. Despite two thousand years of dispersion, the Jewish people reconstituted the State of Israel in 1948 and became a member of the UN already the next year, 1949.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon explained: “The Passover story, told and retold each year, reminds us of where we came from and how far we have come. Before, we were building pyramids in Egypt. Now, we are building rockets to send into space. Then, we were thirsty for water. Now, we are creating water out of thin air. In the past, we were slaves. Today, we are free.”
In his brief remarks ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell quoted from the Book of Exodus which records that “there arose a new king in Egypt who did not know Joseph”. “Today there are many people around the world, especially young people, who do not know their history or that of European Jewry during the Holocaust”, he said. “As Europe faces a rise of antisemitism and some even fear a future “Exodus out of Europe”, we have chosen to remember, appreciate and cherish our own Josephs, the Jewish people, who have helped make our nations what they are today”, he added.
In his introduction to the Passover Seder Rabbi Elie Abadie said: “Jewish culture did not leave behind any monuments but instead it gave us words and values which we still cherish today, such as freedom and liberty.”
Co-founder of the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (FCD), Gregory Lafitte, commented: “The Jewish culture teaches us that history has a meaning, that it is more than a mere succession of happenings. The Jewish culture’s role is not only to remind us of the blueprint of our modern civilizations, but to constantly recall this constitutive incompleteness which alone can build up a dam against totalitarianism.”
The event, which was initiated in 2016 by the Israeli Mission to the UN and the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, brought together ambassadors from many nations, including Russia, India, Japan, Argentina, Nigeria, Ukraine, Finland and Denmark. The Ambassador of Turkey, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, also attended the event, despite recent tension between his country and Israel, thus proving the effectiveness of cultural diplomacy in building bridges between nations, despite political differences, to learn about the universal values and principles expressed in the Jewish holidays. Also present at the Passover Seder on Monday was Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.