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Why I’m Adding a Flower to the Seder Plate This Year

This simple addition serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of the women of Israel, many of whom survived unspeakable violence on and after Oct. 7.
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April 18, 2024
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This Passover, as we gather to retell the story of Jewish liberation, let us add a new symbol to the Seder plate: A flower. This simple addition serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of the women of Israel, many of whom survived unspeakable violence on and after Oct. 7.

Approximately half of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel, and its women will always be a part of our collective story. Israeli women bravely serve as Israel’s first line of defense in many positions in the Israeli military, and suffered some of the most atrocious violence of Oct. 7.

The Passover seder is full of reminders of the highs and lows of Jewish exile. The matzah, a simple bread of poverty, also reminds us that our redemption from slavery came so quickly that we didn’t have time for bread to rise. The egg symbolizes the circle of life, and the charoset both the hard work of laying mortar and the lifesaving defiance Jewish women exhibited in meeting their husbands under the apple trees — circumventing Egypt’s attempts to prevent Jewish continuity.

This year, too, has been full of highs and lows. This month Israel and its allies fought the first direct attack from Iran, shooting down hundreds of rockets and preventing an all-out war in the Middle East. To many, it felt miraculous, and like a testament to the vital work of making peace with our neighbors.

But this miracle came less than a year after Black Shabbat, the darkest day in modern Jewish history. On the holy day of Simchat Torah, over 1,200 people in Israel were killed by terrorists, and hundreds were kidnapped. We also know, from abundant evidence and even survivor testimony, that everywhere Hamas attacked on Oct. 7, they committed acts of sexual violence.

It is this tension that we will hold when we sit down at our Seder tables this year. The flower on our Seder plate is not merely a decorative ornament; it is a symbol of solidarity, a tribute to the lives lost and the suffering endured by Israeli women and girls. It is also a message we will carry long beyond Passover: We believe Israeli women. And we will not let what happened to them be forgotten or erased.

In many ways, the story of Passover, too, is a story of courageous women — of Shifra and Puah, of Yocheved and Miriam — who risked their lives to save the Jewish people and refused to give up hope of our redemption.

This year, we add to their legacy the Israeli women of Oct. 7 — Amit and Moran, Ofra and Naama, Judy, Mila and Shani. We honor those who are still in captivity, those who survived, those who fought to defend their families, and those who were viciously murdered. We honor the tireless crisis counselors who are caring for survivors, and the grandparents who are now raising their grandchildren.

By adding a flower to our Seder plate, we affirm our commitment to the women of Israel, who are facing a world that refuses to believe them. On Oct. 7, the world witnessed unspeakable atrocities perpetrated against innocent Israeli women, men and children. Yet it has largely remained silent—or worse. 

Let us ensure that the victims’ stories are not forgotten. Let us acknowledge the courage of those who survived, mourn the loss of those who did not, and fight for the release of the hostages still held captive in Gaza.

Let us amplify the voices of those who have been silenced and stand with the courageous women of Israel. In adding this flower to our Seder plate, we declare to the world: “We believe Israeli women, and we are speaking out.” 

Let us amplify the voices of those who have been silenced and stand with the courageous women of Israel.

In adding this flower to our Seder plate, we declare to the world: “We believe Israeli women, and we are speaking out.” Let this simple act of remembrance be a beacon of hope in a world too often marred by darkness.

May we meet together next year in Jerusalem. And may we never forget that our Israeli sisters are an integral part of the Jewish story.

You can find additional words of intention to use at your own seder at jwi.org/ibelieveisraeliwomen


Laura E. Adkins is a senior director at Jewish Women International.

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