Reports coming into Lubavitch World Headquarters from the organization’s representatives in some 60 countries and all of the United States, indicate greater numbers of Jewish people will be reached by Chabad’s ongoing Passover campaigns than in years past.
While final numbers are not in yet, by last count some 2,000 communal Seders will be hosted by Chabad-Lubavitch. These include communal Seders in every community served by a Chabad center worldwide, as well as hundreds of others that have no full time rabbi, including exotic locations, such as Cusco, Peru, and Central Africa, in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana, to name just a few.
In the Former Soviet Union alone, Chabad will conduct some 500 communal Seders. Four hundred and fifty rabbinical students leaving from New York and Israel, will be preparing and leading Seders in 170 communities that have no full time rabbis.
In the United States, Chabad representatives from coast to coast will host communal Seders in their respective communities as well as in smaller outlying communities that have no Chabad center. In California, Chabad will be hosting 200 public Seders and will be distributing a total of 25 tons of matzah through its 101 Chabad centers serving the entire state. Similar numbers are reflected for New York State.
In light of Argentina’s current economic crisis, Chabad is stepping up its activities to reach many more Jews this year. According to Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt, director of Chabad-Lubavitch in Argentina—the largest Jewish humanitarian aid provider in the country, Chabad will conduct 60 communal Seders reaching some 10,000 participants.
In Israel, Chabad will be hosting more than 200 communal Seders. These include scores of Seders at soup kitchens serving the needy throughout the country, and Seders for soldiers in the IDF.
On campuses across the U.S., thousands of Jewish students will be joining Chabad’s campus Seders. “The Seder is traditionally a home-based celebration,” observes Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, Chabad representative to the University of Pennsylvania and a member of Chabad’s National Campus Commission. “This is a time when university students are not at home, and Chabad’s ability to create a very warm, home-like atmosphere where students feel comfortable joining a Seder and celebrating the holiday is invaluable.”
On the military front, Chabad is reaching out to all Jewish servicemen serving in the U.S. armed forces with Seder kits that include all the Seder necessities plus a guide with easy-to-follow instructions and meaningful explanations for the complete Seder routine, with all its rituals and traditions.
Chabad’s communal Seders range in size from the popular ones like that in Nepal where 1,200 individuals typically participate at a single Seder, to those drawing several hundred, and even smaller ones where the numbers are in the two-digits.
But the Seders are only one aspect of the Passover awareness programs sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide. According to Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS, Chabad will be distributing some two million pounds of matzah and other Passover necessities in the CIS, reaching Jewish people through distribution centers in 470 communities in 15 republics and 11 time zones.
Chabad’s famous Model Matzah Bakery, geared to Jewish children in every one of the Jewish communities served by Chabad’s 2,500 centers worldwide, has been fine-tuned to give these children a hands-on matzah baking experience with a mini-crash course in the significance of Passover and the rituals and traditions of the holiday.
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky of Lubavitch World Headquarters, estimates that upwards of 225,000 children were reached this year through these Model Matzah Bakeries. “The benefits for Jewish children who may have little other exposure to Jewish education in general, and to the intricacies of Pesach preparation and observance in particular, are immeasurable,” said Rabbi Krinsky.
“The nature of Chabad’s holiday awareness programs is ambitious in that it aspires to reach every Jew, wherever he or she may be, regardless of background, status, affiliation, and geographic location,” notes Rabbi Krinsky. “It is by all accounts a tremendous program that, in spirit and in scope reflects the Rebbe’s call that no Jew be left behind. This was the Rebbe’s mandate—that we do not stop until we’ve found the “Fifth Child” and have him or her join us at the Seder table.”