For Jewish people around the world, Passover begins tomorrow at sundown. Tablet’s Marjorie Ingall provides this wonderful account of how this important Jewish celebration of the Exodus was observed by U.S. soldiers during World War II:
While researching a different story at the Center, I stumbled on this file and wound up so enthralled that I scrapped my original column idea to focus on this instead. Who were these American soldiers, noshing on matzo-ball soup in strange lands, sometimes near active fighting? Who organized these Seders? Who did the cooking? It was time to research.
According to the lively website Jews in Green, Jews served in WWII in numbers much higher than our representation in the general population; by some estimates, 4 to 5 percent of U.S. soldiers were Jews at a time when we constituted less than 2 percent of the population. And the significance of fighting for others’ liberty during their own celebration of freedom clearly wasn’t lost on them.
A program from the Air Force Theater in Pisa began with a prayer, “May we be imbued with a deep sense of our duty as free men; and, as we gather here tonight in brotherly reunion, may we be mindful of those who still dwell in the house of bondage and eat the bread of affliction. Let us pray that the day be not far off when the whole world will be liberated from the forces of tyranny, injustice, inequality, and war.” It concludes with the Shehechiyanu prayer in Hebrew.