Antwerp, Malta, Grenada, Russia: Passover Seder Preparations in Full Swing Worldwide

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http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/3643611/jewish/Antwerp-Malta-Grenada-Russia-Passover-Seder-Preparations-in-Full-Swing-Worldwide.htm

Antwerp, Malta, Grenada, Russia: Passover Seder Preparations in Full Swing Worldwide

Passover is just days away, and Chabad centers around the world are putting the finishing touches on preparations for seders big and small. Emissaries are getting ready for the local residents, tourists and guests headed their way for matzah, wine, good food and even better company at seders that last well into the night as the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt is retold.

Passover starts on the night of Monday, April 10, and runs through the night of Tuesday, April 18. (To find a seder, see the International Seder Directory.)

In Russia, where religious freedom was denied for nearly a century, Chabad-Lubavitch will hold nearly 400 seders in more than 200 different communities. An estimated 40,000 people are expected at celebrations in larger cities, where multiple seders will take place, with many of the smaller cities holding seders directed by rabbinical students.

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Even with ongoing clashes in Eastern Ukraine and the continuing economic struggles throughout the country, Chabad-Lubavitch of Kharkov is preparing for 800 guests slated to attend five separate communal seders, which will take place simultaneously in the Jewish Community Center on both nights. A seder will also be held for preschool children and their families, and one for university students.

Rabbi Chaim and Chaya Mushka Segal, co-directors of Chabad Malta in St. Julian’s, had to get a little creative this year when it came to seder locations. In January, Malta became the smallest country yet to take on the presidency of the Council of the European Union—a six-month role. The hotel spaces within walking distance typically used for hosting the Passover holiday were booked as a result of E.U. meetings. Fortunately, the Segals found a small venue, in addition to the Chabad center, to allow more people to take part in the seder.

Unloading boxes of wine, grape juice and matzah shipped in from New York to the island of Grenada.
Unloading boxes of wine, grape juice and matzah shipped in from New York to the island of Grenada.
As such, they will be able to welcome their usual crowd of about 200. They’ll be serving up a traditional menu, with imported kosher-for-Passover foods from France and Belgium key to their cooking, says Chaya Mushka Segal. Their guests include a mix of community members and travelers, usually groups and families. And two yeshivah students are coming in from New York to help make sure families have boxes of shmurah matzah.

Passover is a time for Jewish unity, she tells Chabad.org: “I want everyone to feel like one big family, to be proud of having so many Jews celebrate together. For the people who live here, Pesach night—when they see hundreds of Jews from around the world—is very empowering.”

For travelers to Malta, many from Israel, the holiday is a time to transcend geographic boundaries and religious backgrounds. “Once they’re here in the Chabad House, that’s our opportunity to explain to them that we are all one, that we should respect each other and love each other; that’s something very important to pass on,” stresses Segal.

In their five years there, she says, they have noticed more people interested in not only making their own seders, but purchasing kosher food for the holiday. She recently ran a program for women on how to prepare kosher-for-Passover meals; their work caught the eye of a local television channel that has taken an interest in running a program about kosher food.

“It encourages us,” she says. “When you see such progress, it gives you so much energy to continue.”

All over the world, Chabad emissaries will be helping people with the many pre-Passover activities, including obtaining shmurah matzah, instructions on cleaning for Passover, selling and burning one’s chametz and other preparations for the eight-day holiday. Online, Chabad.org offers a full range of inspiration, information and services leading up to the holiday on the Chabad.org Passover mini-site.

Rabbi Boruch and Chaya Rozmarin, who serve local citizens in Grenada and students at St. George University, are expecting between 250 and 300 people at their seder.
Rabbi Boruch and Chaya Rozmarin, who serve local citizens in Grenada and students at St. George University, are expecting between 250 and 300 people at their seder.
‘Yiddishkeit That You Live’

In Antwerp, Belgium, the annual Passover expo and “Model Matzah Bakery”—a popular seven-day educational exhibit at Chabad Lubavitch of Antwerp—has been underway since early last week. They’re expecting a total of 1,800 to 2,000 children, some from nearby Holland and Germany, to come through the doors for a chance to try their hand at matzah-making.

Rabbi Shabtai and Risha Slavaticki will celebrate their 40th Passover in Belgium this year, and have always placed an emphasis on the younger set. Making matzah has long-term value, they say. Beyond the cute hats and aprons the kids put on, rolling the dough, seeing it bake and hearing about the laws of matzah offer experiential Jewish learning. “It’s something they live; Yiddishkeit that you live is always stronger than when you hear about it,” says Risha Slavaticki.

They go home with a box of shmurah matzah for their own seders, and sometimes even wind up leading the way when it comes to the family partaking in Passover traditions at home or while traveling. “When the kids bake their own matzahs, they’re very connected to the idea of it being present at the seder and during the holiday,” she says.

Chabad will host two communal seders the first night of Passover in different halls—one geared for English- and Hebrew-speakers, and the other for Russian speakers. In all, they expect a few hundred guests. The Israeli embassy often sends people their way, adding to the international flavor of their Passover gatherings, says Slavaticki. In fact, earlier this week a group of five Finnish opera singers looking for a seder registered to attend.