One of the most exciting parts of Aish is being able to host dignitaries from around the globe at the Dan Family Aish World Center. A few years ago, former Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon started to bring missions of UN Ambassadors to Israel. One of the highlights of their trip was coming to Aish and taking in our breathtaking view of the Temple Mount.
When Ambassador Gilad Erdan took over as the Israeli UN Ambassador, I met with him in his office in New York. He told me that he would continue the missions to Israel and wanted to make sure Aish was on the itinerary. I assured him that the Aish World Center would be ready to host any delegation any time.
A few months ago Ambassador Erdan called me and said he had a great idea. Let’s run a Passover Seder at the UN. In essence we would be bringing a taste of our heritage to the Nations of the world in New York. He told me that since Aish has done such a great job with the Ambassadors in the past, could we run the Seder for them. I told him that we would be honored to do so.
Another special request from the Israeli UN Mission was for the head of Aish Israel, Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht to facilitate the Seder. Thankfully Rabbi Goldwicht had plans to be in the United States for Passover so he was able to officiate. We were all a little nervous as we weren’t sure what the reception would be. How many Ambassadors would come? Would they find the Jewish Passover customs meaningful?
Yesterday afternoon, over 50 Ambassadors attended our Seder. It was truly one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had. Listening to the different Ambassadors read from the Haggadah was truly a unique experience. At one point Rabbi Goldwicht asked us all to join hands and sing the traditional song of Dayenu together. Everyone swayed and joined together. It was a true moment of unity.
During one of the pauses in the Seder I went to speak with the Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya. I told him about the work that our students have done for the refugees of Ukraine. He was truly moved. I presented him with a photo from the Aish roof of sunrise at the Kotel. I told him he could hang it in his office and every time he looks at it he can see that the Almighty always brings light from the darkness.
This was the first official event at the UN since before the start of Covid. I don’t think there could have been a more inspirational event to signal that the world is back open for business. We gave all the Ambassadors a Haggadah as a gift. I was sitting next to the UN Ambassador from Samoa, Dr. Paolelei Luteru. We knew each other from his trip to Jerusalem. He turned to me and asked if he could take an extra Haggadah. He said he was so inspired that he wanted to send one to his grandson.
This is truly what it means to be a Light unto the Nations. We must all wear our Judaism on our sleeves. We must be loud and proud of our heritage. Jews have been fighting for freedom and liberty for thousands of years. We introduced morality and ethical behavior to the world. During this Passover season make sure you share Jewish wisdom with all those around you.