First Passover seder to be held in Warsaw Ghetto since Holocaust

“It is very significant for us to be celebrating the seder night, which symbolizes Jewish freedom…in a place where not long ago others sought to destroy us,” said the hosting rabbi.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hundreds of Jews will celebrate the Passover seder this Friday night in a place that has not seen such a ceremonial meal since 1943, Arutz 7 reported on Wednesday.

The chief rabbi of Chabad-Poland, Shalom Ber Stambler, will host a hundred families from the U.S., Israel, and Poland in the former Warsaw Ghetto, which still stands in part today in the center of the Polish capital as a reminder of the Holocaust.

“It is very significant for us to be celebrating Jewish holidays, and particularly the seder night, which symbolizes Jewish freedom and the day that we united as a nation, in a place that not long ago others sought to destroy us,” Stambler said. “Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have been oppressed by many nations, yet we have always emerged triumphant!”

There will be three simultaneous readings of the Passover Haggadah, the text used during the meal that celebrates the Jews’ miraculous exodus from Egypt as described in the Bible.

The Hebrew-language group will be led by Stambler’s 13-year-old son, Yossi, whom the report describes as a “talented orator” even at such a young age. Attendees from Israel will include at least one survivor who participated in the last seder in the ghetto, which was held the night before the Jews began their famed revolt against the Nazis.

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The Nazis had decided that Passover, known as the Festival of Freedom, was the proper date to deport all the remaining Jews in the ghetto to the death camps.

The Polish-language group will be led by the chief rabbi. Among the local participants will be family members of Vladislav Szpilman, a pianist and composer whose story of surviving the war in Warsaw was made famous by the 2002 Roman Polanski film, The Pianist.

Other Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis are coming from the the U.S. to co-host the seder for the English speakers. One of them, Rabbi Levi Goldschmidt, is the great-grandson of a noted hassid who risked his life to prepare for that last seder by secretly baking matzah, the unleavened bread eaten during Passover. Goldschmidt is the grandson of the sole survivor of the family, a daughter who had left Poland for Tel Aviv before the war.

The three groups are set to end the seder together, in a show of Jewish unity in what is possibly one of the most evocative settings in which Passover will be celebrated this year.