Friday, October 03, 2008

Rosh Hashana, Chabad style

From Bangkok to Cusco, Dharamsala to Pucon, thousands of Israelis will be celebrating the Jewish New Year in Chabad houses around the world.

Anat Shalev

Nothing spells family like the holidays, but then again – nothing spells a holiday for many Israelis quite as much as traveling abroad.

Those choosing to spend Rosh Hashana outside Israel, may find themselves welcoming the Jewish New Year in one of the numerous Chabad houses around the world, offering them a little taste of home for the holidays.

Rabbi Nehemia Wilhelm, of the Chabad chapter in Bangkok, will be celebrating his 14th Rosh Hashana in the Thai capital, and according to him the experience is always elating: "It's always very exciting to see Jewish people celebrating the beginning of the new year together, in unity. It offers so much hope for the year to come," he told Ynet.

Rabbi Wilhelm is expected to see some 1,400 people attended his Rosh Hashana dinner. The hall, he said, can only house 900 people, so they will be having two dinners, in order to accommodate the demand. How does the House prepare for feeding 1,400 people? "Well, many of them come in early and help with the preparations," he said.

Rabbi Shneor Rotem, of the Chabad House in Bolivia, told Ynet they are expecting 80 Israeli hikers for Rosh Hashana dinner: "We are delighted to be able to give them a warm Jewish welcome. Because of the kosher issue, we made our entire meal from scratch. Everyone here donated of their time and talent to help. God willing, we will have a wonderful evening."

At the foot of India's Himalaya, one can find the Dharamsala Chabad House. Rabbi Moshe Shaul Dror told Ynet some 600 Israelis would be attending their Rosh Hashana service and holiday dinner: "We go to great lengths to give the Israelis here an authentic holiday experience and our guests help with the preparations.

"I wish everyone a Shana Tova. May we all have a wonderful year, a year of security and redemption; and may we all be inscribed in the book of life," said Rabbi Dror.

The busiest Chabad houses are considered to be those in the Far East and South America, where hundreds of Israeli hikers – most of them on their post-IDF service cross-continent travels – come to celebrate the holidays.

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