Unforgettable Passover memories from prominent figures

March 26, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Passover begins tomorrow night and the National Library of Israel has launched the “Passover Memories” project to share personal memories from a number of prominent figures who celebrated the holiday under “normal” and not-so-normal circumstances.

Natan and Avital Sharansky upon their arrival in Israel, 12 February 1986 (Photo: Israel Simionsky). From the Dan Hadani Archive, Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Passover – the week-long festival celebrating the ancient Israelites’ freedom from Egyptian bondage – is perhaps the most widely celebrated and beloved Jewish holiday. For many, the Passover Seder – the traditional retelling of the story of the Exodus – is a time to gather together and pass on traditions from one generation to another.

The project includes Natan Sharansky’s recollections of his first Passover Seder, held under the watchful eye of the KGB, and a subsequent “celebration” in the Gulag, where he was a political prisoner for nearly a decade. Sharansky, who would go on to serve in four Israeli cabinets, remembered his spirit being strengthened in solitary confinement as he recalled one particular line from the Passover Haggadah, “This year we are slaves, next year free men; this year we are here, and next year in Jerusalem.”

Daniel C. Kurtzer, who served as an American diplomat and then US ambassador to Egypt recalled his own personal Exodus of sorts: “…we felt it would have been strange to hold a Seder in Egypt,” as well as one senior Egyptian diplomat who “would gladly participate in any Jewish holiday observance except the Passover Seder.”

The project also includes legendary activist and educator Alice Shalvi’s recollections of Passover during the Nazi Blitz on London, as well as with survivors right after the Holocaust; and celebrated author Dara Horn’s story of how her family prepares a “vast interactive performance” at the Seder every year.

Read the stories on The Librarians, the official online publication of the National Library of Israel dedicated to Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history, heritage and culture.

The “Passover Memories” project is part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.


One Response to “Unforgettable Passover memories from prominent figures”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Thank you, grat reading in the The Librarians link.


    Top clerics patronized him, hired him to copy Hebrew books, the grammar books of Rabbi David Kimhi (also known as “Radaq”), books about the Bible, including various commentaries, and so on. *But as a “blemished” Christian, Alfonso was cheated in court when he tried to claim his rightful wages from the “upstanding” publisher.

    That’s about right,down through Jewish history that I’m familiar with……..

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