Diplomats and rabbis gathered at the New England American Jewish Committee’s Diplomats Seder on March 24. | COURTESY/New England AJC

International support for Israel is theme at AJC’s Diplomats Seder

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International support for Israel is theme at AJC’s Diplomats Seder

Diplomats and rabbis gathered at the New England American Jewish Committee’s Diplomats Seder on March 24. | COURTESY/New England AJC

NEWTON – In the dawning hours of Oct. 7, 24-year-old Noa Negbi woke to the sounds of bombs exploding at Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha. Growing up in the close-knit community was idyllic, its tranquility fractured over the years only by sirens that warned of missiles from the Gaza border, less than 2 miles away.

She heeded the call from the emergency team to take shelter in her safe room. It was the start of the vicious and deadly attack by Hamas terrorists who murdered approximately 1,200 people and kidnapped some 240 hostages, with more than 130 believed to still be held.

Negbi was later joined by her lifelong kibbutz friend, Ori Kohan. After more than 24 agonizing hours, they were able to emerge. It was only then – when she reunited with her mother and sister – that she learned the horrifying news that her father, Major (res.) Ram Negbi, the head of security, was killed as he protected the kibbutz.

“He was a larger-than-life man who was beloved by all members of the kibbutz,” Negbi recalled in gripping remarks she made, speaking with Kohan, before a crowd of some 400 people at the New England American Jewish Committee’s Diplomats Seder March 24 at Temple Emanuel in Newton.

They named three others from Ein HaShlosha who also were killed that day. Kibbutz residents soon relocated to a hotel in Eilat, where they quickly began to rebuild their communal lives.

“It is hard to feel hopeful. Our Jewish struggle for freedom is tied to escaping the hate that follows us from generation to generation. We will not give up,” Negbi asserted.

The seder, led by Temple Emanuel senior rabbi Michelle Robinson, brought together Boston’s Jewish community with members of New England’s global consular corps from 20 countries, as well as with dozens of community leaders, elected officials and people from all faiths and backgrounds, to celebrate Passover, known as the Festival of Freedom.

Over the last two decades, AJC’s Seder participants have heard inspiring testimonies from refugees from across the globe who escaped harrowing conditions and found a welcome home in Greater Boston.

This year, following Hamas’s brutal attack, marked a stark difference.

“The Jewish community suffered trauma unlike anything since the Holocaust,” said Rob Leikind, AJC New England’s longtime regional director.

Leikind cited the alarming rise of antisemitism and the proliferation of conspiracy theories after decades when American Jews felt secure in their country.

Striking a note of hope, Leikind applauded the grass-roots efforts of Jews who are reclaiming their voices to speak out against the anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric, most evident at colleges.

The well-being of Jews, people of color, and other minorities demands a national commitment to its foundational principles, he said.

“To ensure our future, we need to gather those who reject the language of hate and build coalitions that reinvigorate our democracy.”

Testimonies from Nim Ravid, an Israeli student at Harvard, and Mauricio Karchmer, a Jewish immigrant from Mexico who was a computer science professor at MIT before resigning in protest in December over the anti-Israel atmosphere, revealed the insidious ways that Jewish students are being silenced and isolated since Oct. 7.

The outbreak of wars on several continents may leave people questioning the limits of diplomacy, acknowledged Adrian Kubicki, consul general of Poland in New York.

“But this is the most pivotal time for diplomats to work tirelessly,” he told the Journal in a conversation at the Seder.

Kubicki joined consul generals from Italy, Cabo Verde, and Latvia to recite the Four Questions in their native languages.

Abelino Chicas, consul general of El Salvador to New England, and his wife, Roxana, were pleased to be invited back for the second year, he told the Journal. Last year, Abelino, who spent time in Israel on a diplomatic study trip, recited one of the Four Questions.

“The most difficult feeling for Israelis since Oct. 7 has been the silence that emanated from people we thought were partners and allies,” said Meron Reuben, consul general of Israel to New England.

Israelis have been mourning and feel shattered, he said.

“But out of this adversity has come a strength that has taken hold in the country and the Jewish nation as a whole,” he said.

Reuben, who announced he’ll be leaving his New England post at the end of the summer, noted the outpouring of support from across the region and the country.

“There is light at the end of the long tunnel because Israel is strong and will stay strong thanks to the bonds that we have,” he said.

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