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October 8, 2015 / 25 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Katmandu’

Chabad Says ‘No Way We Won’t Make a Seder’ in Katmandu

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Chabad-Lubavitch officials say “there’s no way in the world, come Passover we will not make a seder for the thousands of Jews who are relying on us” this year in Katmandu, Nepal.

The statement comes in response to the statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor earlier in the week that there would be no seder this year due to the inability of Israel’s embassy to provide the supplies in time.

The embassy, along with every other Israeli Foreign Ministry facility, is closed to due to a general labor strike. The action follows a year-long struggle by ministry workers to convince the Finance Ministry to raise salaries and pension levels, particular for those who must work abroad.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director at the New York-based World Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters, reassured concerned travelers the internationally-renowned ‘Largest Seder in the World’ would take place as expected.

Actually, there are three: the main seder, held in Katmandu, hosts some 1,500 guests. Another 800 people generally show up for the Passover meal held in Pokhara, and a third seder is held by Chabad of Nepal in remote Manang, some 11,614 above sea level. Seder provisions and rabbinical students are airlifted to that location – inaccessible by road – by helicopter for the occasion.

A second seder for several hundred guests is held at the Chabad House in Katmandu on the second night of the holiday, during which special “kosher for Passover” foods are consumed.

At least 10,000 people will have joined emissaries Rabbi Chezki and Chani Lifshitz in Nepal for a Passover meal by the time the holiday is over, they estimate.

New York is backing the effort all the way.

“We are sending rabbinical students as we do every year to assist [the emissaries] and we are confident that we will find some kind of solution to this crisis so that the seders will take place as always,” Rabbi Kotlarsky told Lubavitch.com.

A shipping container filled with $40,000 worth of matzohs, wine, grape juice, haggadahs, kosher-for-Passover foodstuffs and other holiday necessities is sitting in the port at Calcutta, India but has yet to be released, according to Chabad officials.

Nevertheless, emissary Chani Lifshitz is confident things will work out as they do each year. “Anyone who knows us and the kinds of miracles that we survive on, knows that there’s no way in the world, come Passover, we will not make a seder for the thousands of Jews who are relying on us,” she said. But this year’s miracle will have to be extra-special – if the container is not released this week, supplies will need to arrive another way.

“Two weeks by sea from Calcutta, and two weeks by truck to Nepal,” Lifshitz explains, adding that Chabad of Nepal is also being billed $150 per day in holding fees at the port.

The “Largest Seder in the World’ has been taking place in Nepal for the past ten years – and the Chabad House in Katmandu has been likewise been the place to go for Israeli backpackers moving through Nepal. The Lifshitz couple was the inspiration for the popular Israeli television series “Katmandu” in 2012.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Says ‘No Choice’ on Closing Chabad’s Nepal Seder

Monday, March 24th, 2014

A general strike by Israel’s Foreign Ministry this year is having an unexpected effect on Jews thousands of miles away.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, the labor action has prevented the far-flung Israeli embassy from providing the much-needed goods for the Chabad-Lubavitch seder in Nepal — a world-famous event that draws nearly a thousand people annually to Katmandu. Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in Israel and New York could not be reached for comment.

Palmor said in an interview with The Jewish Press today (Monday), “The window is closed. I spoke with the ambassador yesterday and he explained they need a full month to be able to prepare for this event, and we are just three weeks away from Pesach.

“There is nothing that can be done about it,” he said.

But it’s not only the embassy in Nepal that has been affected by the strike. “Every embassy around the world is closed,” Palmor said.

“This means that every diplomatic function has been shut down. There are no diplomatic cables, no intelligence analyses or negotiations that we handle are being carried out, no visas or passports being processed, no public relations or other statements being made to foreign media in countries around the world – anything that has to do with foreign relations is stopped.”

The strike follows a year-long effort by Foreign Ministry workers to persuade the Finance Ministry to raise shrinking salaries and dropping pensions to “realistic levels.”

According to Palmor, the average gross monthly salary for a ministry worker hovers at around NIS 11,000 (approx. USD 3,000) – less than that of an experienced secretary in New York City. “In fact, an analyst makes less,” he said pointedly. “And if you add the expense of raising a family and the loss of a second income when the employee’s spouse must leave their job in Israel, for many of our staff it is simply not worth it to go abroad anymore. We are losing some of our best staff, and we have been unable to make government finance people come to their senses about this any other way.”

While ministry workers are struggling to wake up the Finance Ministry – and their own boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – Chabad emissary Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz still has a problem. Regardless, he will have to figure out how to feed 1,000 people on the first night of Passover, April 14, in Katmandu, with all the kosher-for-Pesach supplies necessary to grace the longest seder table in the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-foreign-ministry-says-no-choice-on-closing-chabads-nepal-seder/2014/03/24/

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