On Wednesday, Peru’s First Lady, Eliane Karp de Toledo, was hosted at an elegant seuda mafseket—the traditional pre-fast meal, at the European Jewish Community Centre in Brussels. Over traditional fare including chicken soup with kreplach—a version of meat-filled tortellini, Rabbi Moshe Garelik, Executive Director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, spoke about Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, also the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
The reception for the First Lady was arranged on the initiative of Rabbi Zalman and Sara Blumenfeld, Chabad’s representatives to Peru, whose close friendship with Peru’s Jewish First Lady predates her husband’s presidency. When the Blumenfelds learned of the First Lady’s plans to be in Brussels on the eve of Yom Kippur, they contacted the EJCC. “The First Lady visits with us prior to or during each Jewish holiday and we wanted to continue this tradition even while she is traveling abroad,” Rabbi Blumenfeld, who speaks with Mrs. de Toledo regularly, told lubavitch.com in an interview.
Following the dinner, the Peruvian First Lady who lived for a time in Israel, lit the Yom Kippur candles, and recited the blessing in fluent Hebrew. She then joined the Kol Nidrei service.
Rabbi Blumenfeld received a government representative at the Chabad House on Yom Kippur to convey Mrs. Karp’s thanks for the meaningful reception. “She was most appreciative.”
“The First Lady wears her Jewish identity proudly,” says Rabbi Blumenfeld, pointing out that Chabad posted a mezuza on the President’s office, at her behest.
Before leaving the Centre, she offered the traditional Yom Kippur greeting and wishes for an easy fast in Hebrew.