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Remember at our Seders – We are “One Family, One People”s

by Rabbi Hackenbroch

It has been a bitter sweet week, we have had the joy of welcoming home our eldest son Joseph from Israel and once again, even if it is just for Pesach, being reunited as a family. But that joy was overshadowed by the sad news this week that Israel had recovered the body of Zachary Baumel.

Zechariah Baumel, also known as Zachary Baumel, was an American-Israeli soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.

He had been in a Hesder programme which combines army service with Yeshiva study, in fact he attended

some years before me the same Yeshiva.  During the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in Lebanon on June 12, 1982,

his unit was attacked and he and five other comrades were declared missing. One had been killed and was buried

in Syria, and two were located alive in Syria and returned to Israel a few years later. But Baumel, Yehuda Katz,

and Zvi Feldman were unaccounted for over many decades. 

In 1992 I was spending my first year in yeshiva in Gush and we were introduced to some very special guests -

Zachary’s parents, Yona and Miriam Baumel, who shared Zachary’s story and the fact that their life mission

was to ensure that the Government and the Army did not give up on their promise of  bringing their son home. 

I will never forget the impromptu speech that Zachary’s father Yona gave.  Naturally they longed to be reunited

and to hug their son once again. During his speech he sighed heavily - his son had been missing in action for

a decade and breaking down in tears he said that  if Zachary was no longer alive then their fervent wish was

for their son to be returned to Israel so they could lay him to rest and say Kaddish 

Sadly in 2009 Yona Baumel passed away, without witnessing the return of his son. His mission had been to keep his case in the public eye, traveling around the world to uncover leads to confirm or deny the persistent rumours that his son was still alive, 

This week, after 37 years of longing for her son, the army knocked on the door of the 90 year old  

Mrs Miriam Baumel and told her that her son was at long last coming home, but not in the way

that she and the country had hoped. 

It is heart wrenching to think about Miriam Baumel others like her, that the life she knew simply ended

the day her son went missing in war.


When the Jewish people left Egypt after 210 years of slavery, it was Moshe our leader, who refused

to sleep until he had recovered the remains of Joseph. Joseph had asked his family to promise

before his death that they would ensure he would eventually accompany his descendants,

to be laid to rest in Israel.


Even today, every Jew is a precious part of the Jewish story and the Jewish family. Like Joseph we share an unbreakable bond. Our family will never leave one of us behind. Wherever we are we know that we are not alone but as Jews, our people will be there to support us. This is something of which we should be immensely proud. 


Sometimes we approach the Seder with anxiety and apprehension.  For some,

spending time with family members with whom we have unresolved issues and

irritations causes tension. This year take a good look around your Seder table.

We may be different, but we are one family we are one people.

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