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Arabs, Europeans break matzo together

April 25, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Arab and European diplomats joined to celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt and to call for universal freedom.

The occasion was the fifth annual Passover Seder held here by the American Jewish Committee Thursday evening. Rabbi Andrew Baker and Cantor Jerome Barry presided over a streamlined reading of the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Jewish Exodus and arrival in Israel.

``Our redemption is bound up with the redemption of people from bondage everywhere,″ Baker said in explaining the holiday and its traditions.

Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar said ``we were starting our long and tortuous way in history″ with the flight from Egypt 3,500 years ago. But, he added with a chuckle, an Indian diplomat told him that in comparison to India’s older civilization ``we should be modest about the length of it.″

Baker, a Reform rabbi, explained the origins of the Seder and how parts of the Haggadah have changed through the centuries. Barry chanted some of the prayers and at the conclusion sang two of the songs that bring the Seder to a close.

There were traditional samplings of parsley, radish and matzo, four cups of wine and a kosher Eastern European meal of gefilte fish, chicken soup and brisket of beef.

Among the diplomats who attended were Raed Abdullah al-Rifai of Kuwait, Mustapha Cherkaoui of Morocco and Faycal Gouia of Tunisia, Amitava Tripathi of India, Mikail Konarovskiy of Russia, Leanid Sennikau of Belarus, Alfonsas Eidintas of Lithuania and Sven Alkalaj of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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