update deskJewish & Israeli Holidays

Passover 2023

Chabad students lead seders in 66 countries, including Peru, Thailand and Nepal

“This project focuses on ensuring that no Jew is left behind on Passover, no matter where,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky.

Chabad yeshivah students led the first seder in the remote village of Pai, Thailand, where 250 backpackers celebrated Passover on the first night of the holiday, April 5, 2023. Credit: Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.
Chabad yeshivah students led the first seder in the remote village of Pai, Thailand, where 250 backpackers celebrated Passover on the first night of the holiday, April 5, 2023. Credit: Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.

In Cusco, Peru, they had to make their own kosher wine for Passover from scratch. In Manang, Nepal, they drove 20 hours through snowy mountains in a jeep packed with food and gear for the seders. And after 40 hours to get from New York to Pai, Thailand, they found their hired help was a no-show since it was a local holiday.

Chabad rabbinical students make wine for Passover in Almaty, Kazakhstan, one of several remote locations, including in Peru and Nigeria, where they created kosher-for-Passover wine from scratch, April 2023. Credit: Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.

These are some of the more colorful Passover experiences of some 800 Chabad yeshivah students—the largest number to date—who traveled to 66 countries and 26 U.S. states to help those who would otherwise have no seder.

In Pai, where the help did not show, 250 people attended a seder—the first one held in the town, Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302, told JNS. He added that 70 rabbinical students were assigned to assist 10,000 people attending seders in Thailand.

The Passover liturgy in the Haggadah describes the four sons—the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one unable to ask—but the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, famously called for adherents to reach out to the fifth son, who isn’t even at the seder.

“Most organizations would focus on places with a larger population of local Jews or where it is more practical to organize logistically,” said Kotlarsky. “This project focuses on ensuring that no Jew is left behind on Passover, no matter where.”

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