Pidyon 8 When world Jewry was struggling for the release of Soviet Jews, we set aside an empty place at our seder tables to represent our missing kin. Last year Jews around the world were asked to place the figure 5 on the seder table to remind us of our 5 MIA’s. Sadly this year you are urged to prominently display the numeral 8 to remind us of the captives who cannot be with their families Remembering the 8 soldiers on seder night also serves as a mark of protest against the inhumane withholding of information about them by the PA, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran On the joint initiative of the Jewish Agency and Amutat Habanim, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has prepared a special prayer accompanied by Psalms for reading after the "Avadim Hayinu" ("We were slaves") passage in the Haggada on seder night. The complete text is available in MS Word format at http://www.jewishagency.org/NR/rdonlyres/96A6D885-9DC5-4B9E-AA63-B60FA8B828BD/0/mar25_english_prayer.doc or in pdf format at http://www.zfa.com.au/SiteMedia/w3svc008/Uploads/Documents/d61538ef-2ff4-45fb-a07c-9773bec8e94c.pdf The commonality of human distress is highlighted by a letter sent by the families of Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser to the British Embassy in Israel conveying their support for the families of the 15 British sailors recently captured by Iran. According to Ynet, the families expressed their sympathy for the Britons` relatives, saying they were saddened to hear of the abduction. "We recoiled at the thought that another 15 families have joined the circle of uncertainty that we have been part of for 9 months. "Like your sons, our sons were abducted while on a mission serving their country. Like your sons, our sons have parents, brothers, wives and friends." They added, "We send you our love and blessings. We are sure you will find the immense strength you need to deal with the hard time that awaits you. This is the time to embrace family and friends, to join forces in order to return your sons home." Reverting to the 1982 Sultan Yacoub battle, the case of Zachary Baumel epitomizes the suffering and anxiety that the families of the MIAs still endure. In an exquisite refinement of torture in 1993, Yasir Arafat acknowledged that he knew details of the fate of the soldier`s and handed one half of Baumel`s identity tag to Yitzchak Rabin, with a firm promise that more information regarding the MIA`s would be forthcoming. He never kept his promise, but it is believed that other members of the PA shared the knowledge and that they should be pressed to disclose whatever information they have, especially when are negotiating the release of Palestinian prisoners. See also http://www.thejewishweek.com/top/editcolcontent.php3?artid=4157 In 1998 two Dutch women Christa Rhodius, 49, and Jeannet Van Duuren met with Yasser Arafat hoping he would hand over some of the missing soldier`s personal belongings they believe were stored in a safe that was originally held by Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir) in Tripoli, Lebanon and transferred to Gaza. Arafat stonewalled and they did not succeed. The two Dutch women asked Arafat where the other half of Baumel`s tag was, but he did not respond. AP and others have reported claims over the years by Lebanese and Palestinian militias about the fate of the MIA`s. That Syria knows the fate of at least some of the soldiers is evident from the fact that soon after the battle at Sultan Yaqub in which Baumel, Feldman and Katz went missing, three Israeli soldiers were publicly paraded through the streets of Damascus. Palestinian and Syrian officials have made many references to information in their possession regarding the MIAs and one may hope that the newly appointed UN secretary general will demand full and frank disclosure of information and the release of the Israeli and British soldiers.