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Day 199 Of The War: ‘This Pesach, It’s All Bitter Herb’

"This Pesach Is All Bitter Herb," my photo of the demonstration in Kaplan last Saturday
"This Pesach Is All Bitter Herb," my photo of the demonstration in Kaplan last Saturday

Another week flew by with nothing positive on the horizon, and then it was Saturday night at Kaplan again. It was an especially poignant demonstration. Noa Korman Yair, a psychologist from the south and a specialist in post-trauma who volunteered with the evacuees in Eilat for three months, reminded us that we are not yet in the post-trauma phase; we are still in trauma. The hostages are still in Gaza, there is a war going on, the evacuees from the north and the south are still refugees. Moreover, the head of the country and his corrupt government and coalition refuse to take responsibility. She praised the Kaplan activists for showing up and continuing to protest because, as she emphasized, we have no luxury to be in despair.

Then the parents of the fallen soldier Itay Hen came to the stage with their family. Until very recently, Itay was considered missing in action. It transpired that he was killed in action on October 7th, and his body was kidnapped to Gaza. His mother, Hagit, told the crowd how in one second all her hopes and fears were crushed and replaced with a horrible certainty. Itay will not come home, but his parents demand the right to bury him and to sit Shiva as fitting an Israeli hero. Rubi, Itay’s father who is an American citizen, emphasized the difference between the empathy he received from the American administration, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris who called, and the complete inhuman treatment of the Israeli Prime Minister and his government. Even though I never voted for Netanyahu, I felt ashamed on behalf of my country.

Today is Passover Seder, but because of the situation, none of us feels festive, and many people I know refuse to have a Seder. Some of the volunteers at the Families Headquarters will spend the evening at the Hostages’ Plaza by the museum to sit in solidarity with the hostages’ families. I am having the Seder at home and find comfort in preparing the traditional food; it gives me perspective. There is something hopeful in remembering that I am part of a long tradition of a nation, and Jewish people all over the world have been celebrating Pesach throughout history in good and bad times. It’s unclear what we will read from the Haggadah, but each one of us around the table will have a copy of the special Haggadah that was published by the Families Forum. At one point, I thought that perhaps I shall put only bitter herb on the Pesach plate, but decided against it. I have to believe that the hostages will come home soon, and we all will be free again.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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