No Empty Chairs for Hostages at Chengdu Seder Table

Ahead of Pesach, a suggestion was circulated to leave an empty chair at the seder table to remember the hostages in Gaza. Following the Rebbe’s response to a similar idea, Rabbi Dovi Henig came up with a unique solution.

By Rabbi Dovi Henig – Chabad of Chengdu

Ahead of Pesach this year, a suggestion was circulated to leave an empty chair at the seder table to remember the hostages in Gaza. This isn’t the first time such a suggestion was made.

In the early 1950s, during a yechidus with a prominent leader of the North American Jewish Federation, a proposal was for Jewish families to place an empty chair at their Seder table to commemorate the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

The Rebbe respectfully declined this proposal. Instead, he suggested a more impactful tradition: rather than leaving a chair empty, each family should invite an additional guest to their Seder. This way, the empty chair would be filled, symbolizing a living legacy and a triumph for the Jewish people.

This story exemplifies the Rebbe’s consistent message and approach: transforming remembrance into action and ensuring that memory leads to the affirmation of life.

At Chabad Chengdu, this teaching takes a poignant form. There are no empty seats around the tables. Every single one is filled with a Jew to celebrate Pesach. Instead, on the table by each seat is an empty miniature chair, adorned with a photo of a hostage, reminding us that there are still those who are held captive.

This Seder night, as we celebrate our freedom, we daven that all those who are missing will be freed very soon.

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