An integral part of the Pesach Seder is asking the Four Questions. This year, I believe a Fifth Question is looming over our heads: How do we conduct a post-October 7th Seder? There have been numerous articles on how to celebrate Pesach this year while our brothers and sisters are still being held hostage by Hamas. Additionally, so many families will have empty chairs at their table for those who lost their lives on October 7th and subsequently while defending the Land of Israel and the Jewish People. And yet there are more empty chairs for those on the front lines, out on patrols, in the field, and on-base continuing to keep our country safe rather than home with their loved ones. We also recognize so many families are still not able to return home in both the north and south of the country to celebrate the holiday.

Pesach is the most celebrated holiday in Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports that over 96% of Israelis will attend a seder. Solidarity with our brothers and sisters can be implemented in many different ways. Not all initiatives will work for everyone. What is important is making this Pesach different from those in the past.

At the beginning of the Seder, the youngest child recites the four questions. I wrote answers that reflect the past 199 Days.

1. Why is this Night Different from all other nights (Seder)?
a. Tonight, there will be five around our table instead of six. Josh will be on base conducting Seder for his troops. Having been at his Seder, we know his troops will be in for a treat. We couldn’t be prouder of his ability to spread his love of Torah, tradition, and the Jewish people to all his soldiers. We are happy that Devora, Eli, and Lavi will be at our table. The Seder is concluded with the words Next Year in Jerusalem. We will add Next Year all together in Jerusalem.

2. Why do we eat Bitter Herbs?
a. After 3300 years, we are still eating bitter herbs. We have endured much sadness and darkness these past months but have never given up hope. The bitterness that enveloped us has created a unity and a love for Ahavas Yisroel that will be remembered for generations.

3. Why do we dip vegetables twice in salt water?
a. We, too, need to dip twice to remind us of the discord and controversy that our nation experienced prior to October 7th. Arguing and protesting became a national pastime. Our enemies saw that as a weakness but forgot that even though families argue and we are still one big family. We are committed to one another and the survival of Israel and the Jewish people.

4. Why do we recline when we eat?
a. When we recline, we are saying to the world we are a sovereign nation with men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend the Jewish Homeland and the People of Israel.

We should all have a meaningful Seder incorporating some reminder of what our nation and people have endured. At the end of the day, we must remember what commandment we are fulfilling by attending a Seder: “You shall tell your child on that very day: It is because of this that G-D did for me when I went out from Egypt.” (Exodus Chapter 13) By doing so, we pass on our collective memory to our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations. It is part of our collective memory.  

In 1937, the Peel Commission was hearing arguments to allow the Jews of Europe to immigrate to Palestine. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, said the following words:

"300 years ago, there came to the New World a boat, and its name was the Mayflower. The Mayflower’s landing on Plymouth Rock was one of the great historical events in the history of England and in the history of America. But I would like to ask any Englishman sitting here on the commission, what day did the Mayflower leave port? What date was it? I’d like to ask the Americans: do they know what date the Mayflower left port in England? How many people were on the boat? Who were their leaders? What kind of food did they eat on the boat? More than 3300 years ago, long before the Mayflower, our people left Egypt, and every Jew in the world, wherever he is, knows what day they left. And he knows what food they ate. And we still eat that food every anniversary of their Exodus."

 And Matzoh, we shall eat!                                                                 Chag Kasher V’Sameach.   Happy Pesach.

Sally Gerstein and her husband, Dr. Howie Gerstein, made Aliyah two years ago. Their son, Josh, a Ner Israel graduate, married to Devorah Kagan, a Baltimore Bais Yaakov graduate, also moved to Israel. Josh serves as a captain in the Israeli army and acts as a chaplain.

When the war broke out, Sally began writing a daily blog for herself and her friends. It gained immense popularity, with many in the States eagerly awaiting it every morning.

Some of you may recall Sally as the pioneer who introduced the kosher stand to Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland. Wherever there's a cause or a need, Sally is there, front and center.