MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) will lead an alternative Seder this Passover for those who find themselves without a family to go to for the first night of the holiday, including the elderly, new immigrants, people who have left the haredi community and others.
The Seder was the initiative of Yachdav Gilbar, a first-year student at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, as a side-project of a Shabbat hosting initiative he started called Orhim Lashabbat.
Gilbar, 27, said he launched the Shabbat project for elderly people who wanted social interaction, but soon opened it up for people who had left the haredi community and been ostracized by their families.
He explained that this move had been prompted by a series of suicides. Later he decided to open the Passover Seder to anyone without a place to go.
“The idea behind the Shabbat and Seder projects is to bring people together and connect them,” Gilbar said.
“People want to do good and want to help each other, especially those who find themselves in difficult circumstances, so it’s just a matter of creating those opportunities for them to help.”
Approximately 100 people have signed up for the Seder, which will be held in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood.
The food, catered by a renowned gourmet chef, will be strictly kosher. Most of the Seder will be conducted in a traditional manner.
Another 150 people who are part of the Orhim Lashabbat initiative around the country will be opening their homes to anyone without a place to go for the Seder.
Calderon, who was informed of the initiative by Eran Erlich, head of Bezalel’s Ceramics and Glass Department, said Passover is a symbol of family togetherness for the Jewish people and that being alone over the holiday was especially upsetting, regardless of a person’s background or beliefs.
“Zionism for me is the idea of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, but home doesn’t mean just physical security, but solidarity and unity,” she told The Jerusalem Post.
“The family is a basic Jewish unit, but in our generation we have many new types of family aside from the conventional understanding of the institution that we have known until now. Sometimes such people can feel isolated and not part of societal norms, but it is important to help them feel part of a broader family,” the lawmaker said. “For some, such types of new-family can be threatening – people think that society is breaking apart somehow. But if we encourage everyone to be part of us and part of our broader society, then we will all be strengthened by this togetherness and inclusiveness.”