|A traditional Pesach in the least traditional places|
Communities, families, religious leaders and tour operators are in high gear preparing for the Festival of Freedom. The words of the Haggadah will resonate from atop the mountains of Nepal, the most remote regions within China and even aboard cruises ships on the China Sea. We are truly embarking on new frontiers even for our global age.
Nepal, for nearly twenty years, has become something of a Pesach destination amongst the young backpacker set. Chabad has been organising the Seder in Katmandu for nearly eight years now, giving backpackers, most of whom are Israelis who have just completed their military service, a place to celebrate the festival. Initially this Seder was a project run by the Israel Foreign Ministry.
Last year’s gathering, the “Seder on the Rooftop of the World”, attracted nearly one-thousand-five hundred young people and this was despite the Foreign Ministry’s travel warning due to unrest in the region.
Other centers in the region again will also host hundreds of backpackers as they make their way through places like Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam and Laos. The internet is flooded with these bloggers tales of their Far East adventures as they discover a bit of home in the most unlikely of places.
For those who find that themselves slightly past the backpacker or trekker age or who are looking for something a bit more ‘up market’, there are endless choices of worldwide resorts and hotels offering complete Pesach packages, but the ‘hot’ destination seems to be the high seas of Asia. Many cruise operators advertise the availability of kosher for Passover meals aboard their luxury vessels.
Crystal Lines has taken even their six star cruise to the next level and is offering Seders, for both evenings of Pesach, aboard the Symphony. The Symphony will depart from Hong Kong on 29 March and arrive in Beijing on 6 April. Rabbi Morrie Hershmann of Burlingame, California will be on board to lead the Seders. In case China was last year’s destination, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering twelve different Pesach cruises, each with a traditional Ashkenazi Seder lead by either a Rabbi or Cantor.
Regionally, Rabbi Earl Star will lead the first Seder aboard the Seaborn Spirit as they dock in Bangkok, Thailand. Guests will be able to enjoy all the Bangkok Jewish community has to offer, just one stop for this luxury vessel as it makes its way from Hong Kong to Singapore.
For land lovers, Chabad has created an online International Seder Directory. Hundreds of cities worldwide are listed, where communal seders will be held. While you are online, you can even sell your remaining Chametz. There is no need to move from your desk, an online form, with detailed instructions will allow you to complete this mitzvah no matter where you are. There is even a programme built in to calculate the exact time by which this mitzvot must be completed based on your current location.
This year’s worldwide Pesach has also found its way into more remote areas of China, even those without a permanent Chabad presence. In the cities of Tung Chung, Yi Wu and Pudong, Chabad will play host to Passover Seders to accommodate the hundreds of businessmen and travelers who have found themselves far from family and friends during this communal festival.
Freedom from the rigor of Seder preparations is here. Dayenu will now ring out across the world, from the mountains of the Himalayas and across the China Sea, over time zones, across datelines and online. We are truly free to travel to the ends of the earth and still experience the Pesach of our forefathers. Pesach is after all the story of a spiritual journey in unknown lands.