Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. (Esty Dziubov/TPS) Esty Dziubov/TPS
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

“Jewish communities all over the world have come together to meet this crisis and help those in need,” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during a videoconference with Jewish leaders from around the world


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke on Sunday via videoconference with leaders from around the Jewish world in call ahead of the Passover holiday, which will be celebrated under the shadow of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Participants in the videocon included Jewish leaders from New York, Italy, South Africa, India, and France, in addition leading members of the clergy, such as Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Kingdom.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog also participated in the call.

Rivlin wished the representatives of the communities a “chag sameach” (happy holiday), saying, “The Passover Seder meal is built on the Jewish value of mutual responsibility. We begin the seder by declaring ‘all those in need are invited into our homes.’ Jewish communities all over the world have come together to meet this crisis and help those in need.”

He noted that “this Passover will be very different from all other Passover holidays. Rather than gathering with family and friends, we will all follow the guidelines for social distancing. Despite this, our values of mutual responsibility and of passing on our traditions from generation to generation, will continue. No modern-day plague can break the chain that stretches back to the exodus from Egypt and binds our people together.”

“Now more than ever, I feel that we are one family, with a shared history, shared values and a shared destiny,” said the president.

British Chief Rabbi Mirvis pointed out the “rays of light in the dark clouds above us – mutual responsibility, of each of us for our fellows and concerns about our environment. We must all remember that this, too, will pass.”

Noemi Di Segni of Italy thanked the president and said that “the connection with the State of Israel fills us with strength.”

Robert Ejnes of France shared that “the Jewish community in France has, unfortunately, been hit hard in these days of crisis. We are dealing with the situation with courage and bravery.”

“There is no Jewish community in New York that has not experienced cases,” said Rabbi David Greenfield. “We feel as if we are once again in Egypt, in the spirit of these days. In our communities, there are many Jewish doctors. They are on the front line of developments in the fight against the virus, and we are very proud of them.”

In addition to the medical crisis, anti-Semitic incidents on the streets of New York were also discussed.

Lebana Pankar of India spoke about the great “exodus from India” that has happened with Israeli backpackers leaving and returning home. Speaking of the efforts made to ensure this, she said, “we are full of pride about the flight that left here to return home.”

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog said, that “this Passover, the Jewish heart will beat in Israel and in the global Jewish community and there is no greater moment to demonstrate the mutual commitment that exemplifies our people.”

According to figures from Israeli embassies and consulates to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 200 members of the French Jewish community have died of coronavirus, 12 members of the Italian Jewish community and four in Brazil. In addition, as of today, 90 members of the British Jewish community have contracted the virus and 25 in South Africa.

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