The hunger strike on Seder Night
And the Aliyah Bet boat
On April 8, 1946 I received a telegram from Italy in which it was written:
“We are one thousand and one hundred Jewish refugees.
We boarded the Dov Hoz boat at La Spezia Port in order to depart for Israel which is our last hope. The Police arrested us on board. We are declaring that we shall not leave the boat. We demand to allow us to continue on our way to Israel. We declare: we will drown with the boat in the sea if we shall not be able to continue on our way to Israel, as we have already reached the last stage of despair.”
The next day the refugees started a hunger strike. The National Committee in Israel asked them to stop fasting due to the harsh conditions on the boat but we decided that we, the representatives of the National Committee, would fast for them, and we started a hunger strike in Israel until the boat would receive permission to sail to Israel. On the second day of the hunger strike there was a general fast of all the Jews in Israel from the age of 13 and upwards. We suddenly felt that we were a trapped people.
On the third day of the fast it was the eve of Passover, and thousands from all over Israel went up to Jerusalem to express their empathy and carrying flowers. The Chief Rabbis, who fasted together with us and who conducted the special Seder, decided that one person would eat a small piece of matza the size of an olive. We put tea cups on the table instead of wine glasses for the people who were fasting, we read from the Haggadah “in each and every generation man must consider himself as if he has left Egypt....the Holy One Blessed by He did not only redeem our forefathers but rather we were also redeemed together with them”. Every year on Seder Night we say those words but this time we understood them in a new way.