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

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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 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, offers a full range of inspir­a­tion, inform­a­tion and ser­vices lead­ing up to the hol­i­day on the 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.