Michel M.J. Shore

Two seders in One : Two liberations commemorated and celebrated 

Two seders in One : Two liberations commemorated and celebrated 

The setting: a dining room table in Montreal with parents, Sigmond and Lena Shore, Holocaust survivors, with their two children, Jacques and Michel, together with invited guests, around a Passover seder table, all listening.

This is the ambiance, with candles lit and melodies chanted, of the Festival of Liberation from Egypt where slaves became free beings, able to depart, and return to the Promised Land, their ancestral home.

The Seder in the home of SIgmond and Lena had an intense, profound addition to the traditional narrative, a significant recollection of the Holocaust and those who perished. Then came the recognition of the miracle of the birth of the State of Israel which emerged three years after the devastation of the annihilation in the concentration camps.

Numerous names were recalled at their table to recount memories, not only for how so many had been killed but for what their individual and collective dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future held.

In this segment of the seder, they told the story of a Passover Seder in Poland, immediately after the war, which set the stage for the image of another table, also lit with candles, awaiting the one person who had found a Haggadah to be used at this first Passover of freedom. However,  the person with the Haggadah never appeared at the table. He had been arrested on route to Lena’s parents , Dr Jakub and Lusia Herzig’s table.

It was later discovered that their guest with the sole Hagaddah had been arrested and had spent the night in detention until the authorities realized that the Haggadah was not a subversive text but was the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

Lena’s father, at that first seder after the Holocaust, with the absence of a Haggadah, asked survivors at his table to share what each recalled from the text of the Passover Haggadah, in addition to reminiscences of their own family Passover seder tables of years gone by.

Each recalled the lives of so very very many lost loved ones.

Dr. Jakub Herzig realized, as he often said and had written in his book, Matzevot (Tombstones) , that memories in words would be the only tombstones for those gone without a trace.

It was a seder to remember, not only for those at the table, but for future generations; and hopefully, for time immemorial, to recall the bondages of the past and to appreciate the freedoms of today.

About the Author
Michel M.J. Shore is a retired judge of the Federal Court of Canada and recently made a home in Israel. He is the writer of several published books and poetry collections.