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Nepal's Chabad House Relies on Hikers for Seder Supplies

With no supplies due to a strike, Chabad has turned to visitors coming to Nepal, received hundreds of pounds of matzah.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/10/2014, 9:24 PM

Suitcases of seder supplies
Suitcases of seder supplies
Chabad.org

The Chabad house in Nepal's Kathmandu has come up with a creative way to deal with the delay in supplies for its massive Passover Seder: visitors coming to the scenic country's Chabad house are bringing the Seder in their suitcases.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry strike in late March put the Seder in danger of not having supplies, by blocking the delivery of supplies and leaving them stuck in an Indian port. While the strike ended last Wednesday, the supplies container likely will not make it in time for the seder next Monday night, reports Chabad.org.

“We are still hoping to get the shipment, but it usually takes more than two weeks for it to arrive here from the port,” noted Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz, who has run the Kathmandu Chabad house with his wife Chani since 1999. “If we have two drivers and they drive 24 hours straight and the roads are clear, then we will have a small chance.”

Yisroel New, an Australian rabbinical student helping Lifshitz, noted "we’re trying to get the container expedited, but it’s addressed to the embassy and not Chabad."

However, Lifschitz is not letting the setback stop the Seder which typically draws over 1,000 Jews, and is one of four Seders conducted in different parts of Nepal.

Matzah arriving from around the world

Taking the supplies issue in stride, Lifshitz put out the word for people traveling to Nepal to bring matzah and other goods for the holiday. The call spread by word of mouth and through social media; in the last two weeks hundreds of pounds supplies have been pouring in with tourists.

“Someone pulled up today with 180 kilos (roughly 400 pounds) of matzah,” reported New. Lifshitz remarked that the Chabad house needs at least 1,000 kilos (2,200 pounds) of supplies to hold the mass seder.

"Many kinds of people have been bringing supplies with them—students, backpackers, people from kibbutzim—it is amazing," remarked Lifshitz. "Rabbi [Yosef Chaim] Kantor [Chabad emissary in Bangkok, Thailand] has been helping us a lot, sending supplies with people who are in Thailand and traveling here.

One sticking point has been wine, which apparently has been difficult to bring in. "If it doesn’t arrive (in the stalled shipment), then we will make our own grape juice for the seder,” noted Lifshitz. “We’ll make it like they did in the older generation.”

Hundreds of pounds of matzah already has arrived already Chabad.org