President Reuven Rivlin celebrated the Passover Seder with IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and 400 lone soldiers from some 35 countries.
Lone soldiers are troops who came to Israel to serve in the IDF, but their families stayed in their countries of origin. They are adopted by various entities in Israel.
Commenting on the significance of the event, Rivlin told the soldiers that “our ancestors celebrated the first Passover as they were leaving Egypt for Israel, and it marked their move from slavery to freedom. Today, Passover is a holiday where families gather for the Seder meal. We are your family and you are our family. You are part of us, and we are part of you.”
Expanding on the meaning of the holiday, the Israeli president said that “one does not attain freedom overnight. Freedom is a sustained effort – spiritual and physical. Today, too, we must protect our freedom and our right to live in the State of Israel. Because of that, we still need a strong army. Each one of you comes from a different background. But you all have in common the fact that you chose to give of yourselves for the benefit of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
“Despite the difficulties of being a soldier, and even more so of being a lone soldier, you chose to serve the state in order to protect us all. You are brave and wonderful people. It is a great honor to sit with you here tonight,” he told them.