President Reuven Rivlin addressed the State of Israel and Jewish communities around the world before the Passover holiday, as many communities prepare to celebrate the holiday in lockdown.
"Dear Israelis, this year we will mark Seder night in difficult circumstances because of the ‘corona plague’, the modern affliction that casts a dark shadow on us all," said Rivlin in a Hebrew video. "Suddenly, we realize how important the simple things that make up our daily lives are to us. Simple things like going outside, and breathing the spring air which is always part of Pesach; like the bustling and hurrying – that are so Israeli – of the preparations for the holiday; and like the gathering of the family, loved and familiar, together around the Pesach table."
"Suddenly, when we are faced with ‘social distancing’, closures and isolation at homes, we feel even more clearly importance of the obligation to ‘tell the story to your children’, of passing on the story from generation to generation, from grandparents to children to grandchildren to great-grandchildren. This is our story, our anchor, what binds us together – even when we need to be apart," added Rivlin.
The president stressed that it is still a holiday and "despite it all" we will get ready for the Passover seder and "tell the story to those who are sitting with us as well as to those who are no less close, but need to celebrate the holiday with us from afar."
"In these days, my dear ones, we are all praying, together or separately, young and old, secular and religious, for the better days ahead. We all ask ‘remember the covenant of our forefathers’. Chag Pesach Sameach, a happy Pesach. To next year, together. Am Yisrael Chai, the Jewish people lives,” concluded the president.
In a separate video in English, Rivlin addressed Jewish communities around the world.
"This year, we are all facing the challenge of corona and the challenge of distance from our family and loved ones. But despite the distance, Pesach reminds us that the Jewish people are all one family, with shared history, shared values and a shared destiny," said the president, adding that the State of Israel will be thinking about and praying for the diaspora as Israelis gather around the Seder table.
"Passover is the holiday of freedom – Chag haHerut. Even when we are forced to stay in our homes, we still have the freedom to appreciate the most basic things in life: our families, our health, our history and tradition. We must pass on these values to our children, to our children’s children, from generation to generation, as we say in Hebrew ‘mi dor le-dor,’" added Rivlin. "I wish you all a happy and healthy Passover and may we all be together next year in Jerusalem. Leshana haba’a beYerushalayim. Chag Pesach kasher v’sameach. Am Yisrael chai.”
On social media, Rivlin posted a video of himself reading the Hagada for children and speaking about his childhood memories of Passover in Jerusalem before the establishment of the State of Israel.
Israelis will be spending the Seder night under lockdown in their homes with only the family that lives with them as the government attempts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on the night when families usually gather together to celebrate the Passover holiday. From 3 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday, Israelis are asked not to travel or shop at all.