A German Army Seder in the Midst of World War I

During World War I, Jewish soldiers in all combatant armies collectively held dozens if not hundreds of Passover seders, ranging from the ad-hoc to the officially approved and planned. Adolf Fraenkel, an Orthodox German mathematician who later became the rector of Hebrew University, described one such ritual meal in his memoirs, as Ro Oranim writes:

In 1915, Fraenkel found himself serving as a medical orderly for the army, which included such responsibilities as transcribing autopsy reports from dictation and assisting in minor surgeries. During his two years of service in the field hospitals, Fraenkel was also authorized by the Bavarian Ministry of Cultural Affairs to serve as the Jewish chaplain for his fellow soldiers. While this position did not reduce the responsibilities of his day-to-day service, it did offer him a chance to stay connected to his religion and to assist others in maintaining their traditions as well.

In 1915, Fraenkel was stationed at the military hospital in the French city of Cambrai. . . . Fraenkel took his position [as chaplain] seriously, arranging for prayer services in the field and ensuring that soldiers could celebrate their holidays to the extent possible. At the end of March 1915, Fraenkel prepared . . . a list of the local soldiers who were interested in joining the seder, . . . set to take place on the 29th and 30th days of the month. . . .

A total of nine soldiers registered for both of the seders, including men serving as medics, logistics officers, combat engineers, and one serving in the newly formed German air force who did not specify which seder he planned to attend, perhaps because he knew there was a chance he would be called away at the last minute.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: German Jewry, Hebrew University, Jews in the military, Passover, World War I


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security