WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Monday published a greeting to the Jewish world in general and to Israel in particular, ahead of the Passover Seder. After the one of the most strained weeks in Israel-US ties in years, Obama offered warm words to the Jewish people, some even in Hebrew.
He started his greeting with a verse from the Talmud in Hebrew, followed by the English translation: "In every generation, each of us should feel as though we ourselves had personally gone forth from Egypt."
The American president also ended his greeting with the Hebrew words "Chag Sameach", meaning happy holiday.
Obama's letter read: "This evening, Jewish individuals, families, and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table to celebrate the sacred festival of Passover.
"With rich symbols, rituals, and traditions, they will tell the story of the Exodus – the journey of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom, from grief to joy, from darkness to light, and from suffering to redemption."
In the spirit of the season and on the backdrop of the US's diplomatic efforts to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Obama expressed in his letter hope that lessons from the Exodus from Egypt may be learned.
"The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all," he wrote.
The US president ended his letter saying, "My family and I send our warmest wishes for a joyous and meaningful Passover."
During his election campaign two years ago, Obama and his Jewish aides started a tradition of holding a proper Jewish Passover Seder. Last year he held his first Seder in the White House with his family and friends, and plans to hold a private Seder on Monday as well.