As the 800 Chabad Yeshiva Students return home from leading Sedarim in 66 countries around the world, they bring with them thousands of meaningful stories and anecdotes of the individuals they encountered on their journeys.
As the 800 Chabad Yeshiva Students return home from leading Sedarim in 66 countries around the world, they bring with them thousands of meaningful stories and anecdotes of the individuals they encountered on their journeys. Here are some highlights of those inspirational anecdotes.
It took us about 40 hrs to get from NY to Pai.
When we got to the third-world village with its “Tuk Tuks” windy roads and rivers, it was a radical shift for us, but we quickly got to work immersing the dishes, getting to know the backpackers, setting up the tent and three-course Seder for 240 people at the first Seder in Pai.
It didn’t take long until we encountered our first obstacle. We had hired several local workers to pitch the tent and set up the room, but as the Seder edged closer, none of them showed up.
Asking around, we discovered that today was a local holiday, and no one would be working. As we sat down, trying to devise a plan, two Israeli backpackers approached us. They said they had heard that Chabad was arranging a Seder here, and they wanted to check it out for themselves. “Yes, that’s us,” we said, knowing that we had no idea how we would make the Seder happen in time. “That’s incredible! Do you guys need some help?” We said, “Actually, we do, we need lots of help.”
So the backpackers returned to their hostel and called all their friends back to Chabad to help make the Seder happen.
The entire Seder was set up by the Backpackers and the Bochurim creating an incredible family-like atmosphere leading into the Seder. That night the singing and dancing lasted into the wee hours of the morning as everyone joined in singing the traditional songs.
After Hashem helped us with the lack of workers, a few more challenges came up, such as our oven not showing up and half the food spoiling on its journey from Bangkok. Still, as we overcame each hurdle together, we bonded even more, creating an atmosphere that was truly one of a kind.
We keep hearing more stories that resulted from the unique evening.
From the secular Israeli who came back on Friday night to celebrate his first Shabbos dinner to the Kohen who was inspired to come back every day and bless the community, the Seder had an immediate impact, and we hope it will continue to reverberate for years to come.
In Vinnitzia, Ukraine, in addition to leading the Sedarim, the Merkos Shlichus Bochurim helped ensure a Jewish burial for an elderly woman.
With her family fleeing to safety at the start of the war, she had passed away alone. The Roving Rabbis and the local Shliach stepped in to ensure she had a Jewish burial. Initially, the morgue refused to release her without an autopsy. But after much persuasion from the local Shliach, they allowed her to be buried according to Jewish law.
As the only attendees at the Funeral, the Bochurim took on all the roles, ensuring that she was buried in a Kevuras Yisroel.
Thirty-nine roving rabbis were dispatched to tens of Jewish communities throughout Ukraine. With flying directly to Ukraine nearly impossible, it took many of them three days to reach their destination from the US.
We arrived in Bankso with less than an hour to spare before Pesach. The two-hour trip from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, took us more than seven hours, “Car broken,” explained our driver in broken English. After pulling over multiple times and finally turning back to find the replacement driver who had gotten lost, we finally made it to the beautiful mountainous village with just enough time to set up for the Holiday.
The Seder itself was warm and energetic, as we, together with the 40 tourists, joined in song and inspiration in the fireplace-lit dining room until the wee hours of the morning.
As we walked out into the fresh mountain air, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten something important back at the Hotel. When we returned to the lobby, we noticed someone looking at us curiously. After striking up a conversation with him, he shared that his mother’s mother was Jewish, “then you are Jewish, and it’s Passover today,” we said. We proceeded to give him a box of Matzah and explained the significance of the Holiday. Another precious soul was given the opportunity to reconnect to their Jewish identity because of this divinely orchestrated detour back to the Hotel.
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
Boruch Hashem our first Seder on Gran Canaria, was a huge success. Many locals turned out and enjoyed the lively discussion, poignant Torah thoughts and delicious Pesach food.
As we prepared for the second Seder, we were alerted by a community member that the three hot plates that we had used the previous night to heat the food were plugged in but not producing any heat; the fuse must have blown!! For a couple of minutes, we were disappointed and confused about how to proceed. In just over an hour, the many guests would be sitting down to a Seder meal, and the food was going to be cold.
Miraculously, a burner that could barely heat up a pot of soup the other night suddenly had the capability, with constant rotating and lots of care to heat up the many pans of food for the Seder guests!
Hashem was watching over his children in Gran Canaria, making sure they have everything they needed to celebrate Pesach joyfully.
The ballroom at the Hotel was filled to capacity, 250 people showed up, some of whom were not registered beforehand, and in short, it was crowded. As part of the unexpected influx of people, there was a considerable shortage of yarmulkes. Not having anymore in the Hotel, we decided to run to the Chabad House – just a few minutes walk away and bring some from there.
When we arrived, we noticed a couple of tourists standing at the entrance to the Chabad House, looking lost. We approached them, and it turned out that they were looking for the hotel where the event was taking place but couldn’t find it. They had almost given up hope on having a Seder. We immediately directed them to the hotel, where they happily joined us.
Later that night, during the Seder, the man approached us with his wife and expressed his great excitement, still in disbelief that we were there at that exact moment. “How did you know to land there at exactly the right time?” he exclaimed. We explained to him that we were just messengers of the Creator, sent to be there at the right moment.
It was a poignant moment when we realized that we weren’t in charge of the plan. The sender was here with us, guiding every step and moment.
“The Merkos Shlichus initiative takes months of effort to pull off,” says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and entrusted by the Rebbe with the Merkos Shlichus project, “hearing these stories and knowing that even one Jew was able to fulfill the Mitzvos of Pesach makes it all worth it.”
This year was the largest ever Merkos Shlichus Pesach initiative; participate in this incredible project at https://globalpassover.com.
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