2.3.74 Saturday night. We are performing another religious act – Havdallah. Amos is teaching us to differentiate between the sacred and the secular and to sing “Eliyahu Hanavi”.
8.3.73 Simchah Rabbah Simchah Rabbah, spring is here and Purim is coming. We have to celebrate the Jewish holidays in the best way possible. Whoever didn’t do so at home, will do this in captivity – in order to feel a bit Israeli; And whoever did so at home – will keep the tradition.
We celebrated Purim in good humor, we sang songs, we played games and we ate a slightly better meal.
By the way, the Syrians have already learned that on Fridays and holidays there is noise in the officers hall. They allow us to sing and to celebrate, even though they don’t understand how it’s possible.
17.3.74 – Another three weeks to Passover. We are starting to think of matzah from home and in general what the holiday will be like. The matzah is the first issue over which we’ve seriously quarreled among ourselves. Some of us claim that we have to pressure the Syrians in every way possible to give us matzah for Passover. One of the reasons to pressure them is to test our power against them. Also, according to them, the time has come to raise our heads up and be prouder. They suggest we inform the Syrians that if there are no matzahs for Passover, we won’t eat bread.
Some of the people agree, but some think it is still too early to fight; Secondly – if we were to have a hunger strike – it shouldn’t have anything to do with matzah which isn’t as important to us as other things which undoubtedly will be lacking.
The arguments are stormy and disorganized. We have votes on different and similar suggestions. In general, we feel the need for a central body that will organize things. It was decided by a majority vote to elect a committee, whose job it will be to coordinate the problems, present them or solve them as much as possible. They will also be responsible for daily contact with the Syrians and for our connection with the Red Cross.
27.3.74 – the door opened and a crate full of towels was brought in. At first it seemed to be another normal improvement in conditions when suddenly someone discovered Hebrew writing on the towels. General rejoicing. Packages from home arrived. They haven’t forgotten us there. That evening, the door opened a number of times and we got underwear, slippers, toothbrushes and combs. A few sweets manufactured by “Elite” and most important of all – supplies for Passover. The problem of the matzah was solved because we simply got matzah. We also got charosset, kippahs, a talit and a prayerbook. The military rabbinate was alright.
For many of us, the prolonged captivity (with no outside contact, no radio, no books or newspapers) gave us a strong urge to read something. We all agreed that the Bible is the “Book of Books” and with it one can endure a long time in captivity.
The next day, a package arrived that included two small Bibles which we had awaited for so long. They consented to give us haggadahs that arrived from home.
The week of Passover preparations included assembling a choir (Uri, Taron, Vered, Guri, Gabi, Lif) that worked on a number of songs and whose job it would be to lead the singing during the holiday; gathering food the entire week with the aim of improving the fare for the holiday, dividing up the readings from the haggadah and writing enough song sheets for everyone.
It was finally decided to read the entire haggadah and to conduct a traditional seder according to halachah.
6.4.74 – the first seder night in the Diaspora. We wore festive clothes (a white shirt from home) we gathered around a set table with a napkin for each person. The mood already at the beginning of the evening was elevated. We had already notified the Syrians informing them that the evening would be festive.
Louie sat at the head of the table and he was in charge of conducting the seder. Beside him, Amos made sure that everything was in order. According to plan, we start to read from the haggadah, Gerber, the youngest one among us, asks the four questions. The choir sings beautifully and the sing along draws everyone in. When it is time to eat, we are surprised at the standard of food presented by the food committee. After eating, we continue reading the haggadah till the end. We sat at the table for three hours, and to conclude the evening we made some room and organized dancing. There was a lot of noise and rejoicing. The Syrians opened the door a number of times during the evening and had difficulty understanding how one can rejoice in captivity. To their credit, they didn’t disturb us. After the dancing, we gathered round the stove on which dessert was warming. We sang patriotic songs with much longing and nostalgia. During the seder, two pleas were made, one was composed by Amos:
The Merciful One should bless and release speedily in our days, all the IDF soldiers who are being held in bitter, difficult and cruel captivity, in the pits of jail in the Diaspora of Damascus, and unite them speedily in our days with the members of their families in Tzion soon and speedily in our days redeemed to Tzion in joy. Amen.
25.5.74 – On Shabbat, the amputees were taken to the hospital and we speculated and we waited and prayed the morning service in a minyan. Is this the last Shabbat?
30.5.74 – The Syrians continue to work on us and bring us propaganda books in English. The only use we make of them is to learn English and to tear some paper from the first pages.
Passover is approaching and we still don’t have haggadahs. Amos and Gerber are devoting themselves to composing one. The material is taken from the Bible and from memory. The guys are beginning to copy in sets what is written and we intend to conduct a proper seder. There is a bit of arguments between the kibbutz members and the religious on the style of the haggadah and the character of the seder. The general tendency is to conduct a traditional seder according to halachah.