Saturday, April 27, 2002

Seder meal finished in memory

Bombing victims honored in symbolic Passover

By Tom O'Neill,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It was, if only symbolically, a sacred meal for 28.

        There was no food. No one left empty.

[photo] Rabbis from the Cincinnati Board of Rabbis sing the Israeli national anthem after the Seder meal Friday at the Hillel Jewish Student Center in Clifton.
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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        A month to the day after a Palestinian bomber got past security at a Passover Seder dinner at a Netanya, Israel hotel ballroom and blew himself up, local Jews gathered in Clifton Friday afternoon to finish that meal in memory of the 28 Jews killed.

        They fixed a table with 28 settings, each empty plate graced with a lavender napkin and a photo of each victim.

        “Let us be clear to the American world,” Rabbi Abie Ingber told the gathering of about 35 at the Cincinnati Hillel Jewish Student Center. “The Passover Seder is the equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner, of Christmas Eve dinner. ... Imagine 28 people butchered at a family Christmas dinner.”

        The timing of the event, 12:15 p.m., coincided with the same moment, 7:15 p.m. Israel-time, the attack occurred. It was sponsored by the Cincinnati Board of Rabbis. Six-year-old Elana Schwartz of Sycamore Township read “Mah Nishtannah,” or “The Four Questions.”

        The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the Netanya murders. The youngest victim was 20, the oldest 90. Many were elderly. More than 120 Jews were injured.

[photo] A card with the name and photo of one of the victims marks one of 28 place settings. Each chair was also draped with a cloth.
| ZOOM |
        The Netanya suicide bombing prompted Israeli military forces to move into Ramallah and invade Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound.

        For those who stood and prayed around the empty chairs Friday in Cincinnati — a sister-city to Netanya — the focus was on 28 innocent Jews.

        “You can disagree with what the government is doing,” Dena Eben, 23, of Clifton said. “But this is for the people of Israel.”

        Henry Spitz, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Cincinnati, said he canceled everything to attend, adding that “this event just shows that peace is possible.”

        Arthur Shriberg, a professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Xavier, said that Jews are “literally fighting for our lives.”

        They recounted the lives lost. The youngest to die that day in Netanya, 20-year-old Sivan Vider, was sitting next to her 50-year-old father, who also died .

        Zee'v Vider's organs were donated.

        A 45-year-old seriously ill woman living in Jerusalem received a kidney.

        She's Arab.

        “As it should be,” Mr. Shriberg said. “The continuation of life.”

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