Only three weeks after giving birth to their son Mendy, Rwanda shluchim Rabbi Chaim and Dina Bar-Sela took a grueling flight, followed by a 12-hour isolation, to spend Rosh Hashana with their community.
Three-week-old Mendy Bar-Sela could not have imagined that within a month of his birth in Israel he would be flying for over 12 hours with two stops on the way to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
However Mendi’s parents, Chaim and Dina Bar-Sela are shluchim, Chabad emissaries to the remote Jewish community in what was once a war-torn country. Since the emissaries need to be in their communities for the period of the high holidays and festivals, the couple packed hundreds of kilograms of items, kosher food and other equipment for the festival period and hopped on a plane back to their Rwanda home just a few weeks after Dina had given birth in Jerusalem.
At the same time a new Sefer Torah which had been donated to the community arrived at the Chabad house in Kigali.
Rwanda, a relatively unaffected country from COVID-19, requires a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before entering its territory as well as quarantining in a local hotel for 12 hours and a second test undergone immediately after entering the country. Little Mendy had to undergo all of the above tests.
Rabbi Bar Sela noted that “despite the long trip with two stops on the way and 12 hours of isolation with a three week old baby, we managed to arrive just before Rosh Hashana and conduct the prayers and meals in accordance with the health regulations.”
There are some 100 Jews in Rwanda and the Chabad house is effectively the only place where they can connect with their Jewish roots.