A MAN holds up a flag during a peace rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A full Passover Seder was conducted on Wednesday morning in the middle of Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, to highlight the plight of missing persons and their families.
Signs bearing the images of several missing persons were arranged around the Seder table that was set up by the Forum of Families of Missing People, in order to draw public attention to the issue.
Among the images were those of Daniel Minivtzki, who went missing six months ago, and Adi Yaakobi, who disappeared more than 19 years ago.
Additionally, the organization wishes to anchor in law the status of such families, first by obtaining official recognition for their situation, as well as financial assistance, recognition of the costs of searching for their loved ones, and assistance for their psychological well-being through the National Insurance Institute.
The forum also seeks to implement oversight over the various official bodies that deal with missing persons.
As opposed to bereaved families, the regular routine of the families of missing persons can vary from total despair to hope that their loved ones may one day return home, the organization says.
Such families deal with continual uncertainty, and on Jewish holidays the anguish is heightened, since family get-togethers and celebrations are such prominent aspects of the various festivals in the Jewish calendar.
“We placed an empty chair at the Seder table not for the Prophet Elijah, as is traditional, but for my father’s brother,” said Betty Elkayam at the ceremony.
“Maybe he will suddenly turn up and join the festive meal.”
Since the establishment of the state, there have been some 500 cases of missing persons which have never been solved.
Every year approximately 20 new cases occur in which people simply disappear.
Among other goals the forum also seeks to bring about greater awareness of the public to notices about such people and to help their families obtain more information to help locate them or, in the worst circumstances, discover what happened to them.
“Our Passover Seder this year will be our first without Daniel, and we don’t know where he is and what his fate is,” said Shuki Minivtzki, the chairman of the forum.
“We will leave him an empty chair next to the table; perhaps he will yet return.
There are many other families like us who are dealing with such circumstances – some for many years – and with the uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones. I call on the public to shake off its apathy toward missing persons and not to ignore signs and notices about them. Public awareness can help families solve the mystery behind the disappearance of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.”