Lone Holocaust survivors enjoy a Rosh Hashana seder by the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors.
(photo credit: PR)
A Passover Seder organized for lone elderly Holocaust survivors by the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors is in danger of cancellation, the organization told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Each year the association, which is run entirely by volunteers, holds both a Rosh Hashana Seder and Passover Seders for lone survivors who would otherwise be alone during the holidays.
This year, due to overwhelming demand, the association decided to expand its Seder to include some 450 lone survivors, as well as distributing food to the homes of an additional 350 survivors.
As such, the association had to find a suitable venue for the event, which is set to be held at lunchtime on Friday, just ahead of the Passover holiday. The organization was able to enlist the help of Cassiopeia in Herzliya Pituah, which donated the event hall completely free of charge.
“Most of the survivors are very elderly and it was important to us to hold the Seder the day of Passover Eve, so that the survivors can go to sleep with the feeling that as all Israel celebrated the holiday so did they,” she said.
The problem arose when the Kashrut supervisor of the event hall refused to allow food that was not kosher for Passover, despite the event taking place prior to the onset of the holiday.
“We spoke to the Chief Rabbinate and discovered that this was a past decision, whereby the kashrut for Passover begins from 9 a.m. the morning of Passover Eve – not 7 a.m. or 12 p.m. but 9 a.m. – this is what was decided, it is a part of the Halacha,” she said.
However, kosher catering for Passover is very expensive and after tremendous efforts by the association to find an alternative non-kosher venue they were unable to do so, explained More.
The association was finally able to locate a kosher for Passover catering service for the event, which even agreed to provide the meals at a discount – though still at great cost.
“For the Rosh Hashana Seder the association hosted 220 people with a total budget of some NIS 10,000,” said More. “In order to hold this Passover’s Seder we need a budget of around NIS 140,000 – we simply do not have the funds,” she said.
Moreover, she explained, the Rabbinate will also not allow the association to use the facilities of the event hall, so that the organization needs to provide dispensable plates and cutlery, food trucks to store the food, and heating plates to heat all the food – all at additional cost.
“We might have to cancel the Seder or downsize it to include only around 80 people – which will be a tremendous blow to the Holocaust survivors who eagerly await this event,” she said.
“The Rabbinate is simply ruining this event for hundreds of lone Holocaust survivors who have nowhere else to go,” she said.
Aryeh, a 94 year-old survivor from Holon, released a video on the organization’s Facebook page pleading for help from the public to ensure the association can hold the Seder.
“I don’t know if I will be here next Passover and I am asking that the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors hold its Passover Seder,” he said.
“We always try to be together on Passover and they hold events for us that make us feel like people, like we can still live.”
“We are missing food, we are missing a party and presents like we receive for every holiday and so many little things that are so important,” he said.
More also called on the public to assist and rally to the help of the lone Holocaust survivors.
“Anything that can be donated, from dispensable plates to small gift bags that we generally always provided to the survivors, but this year will probably not be able to do, will be welcome,” she said.
“We are not asking for money directly, but we are calling on the public to come to the event on Friday and see for themselves and meet the survivors and bring gifts or do whatever they can to help,” she said.
Donations can be made through the organization's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/aihhs or via phone 03-5257888 or email: [email protected]