Thailand in tight competition to beat Nepal for largest Passover Seder

This year's Seder planned on the Thai island of Koh Samui may draw as many as 3,000.

By
April 18, 2019 17:38
2 minute read.
Nepal

A TOURIST looks at a view of Mount Everest from the hills of Syangboche in Nepal. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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While the crown of largest Passover seder in the world has traditionally been held by the Chabad seder in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, it appears that it has serious competition this year from the Chabad seder on Thailand’s island of Koh Samui.

In 2018, some 2,000 guests participated in the Kathmandu seder, the 30th such seder held a mile high in the Himalayan capital of Nepal.

But this year, Chabad on the Thai tropical island of Koh Samui are expecting in the region of 2,800 guests.

Even last year the Koi Samui Seder hosted some 2,500 people, although the fact that guests were seated in separate yet adjoining spaces debatably allowed the Nepal Seder to keep its crown as the largest.

Koi Samui will have a similar arrangement this year, so the true biggest Seder in the world will still be up for debate.

Although the majority of Chabad’s guests on Koh Samui are Israeli, a separate seder will also be held in English this year for non-Israeli Jewish guests.

“Yes in fact we are looking forward with much excitement to yet another great experience with even more people this year,” Rabbi Mendel Goldshmid, who co-directs the Koh Samui Chabad center and its Seders with his wife, Sara, told Chabad News.  

In addition to Koh Samui, Chabad will also run a Seder in Thailand’s capital Bangkok where around 1,200 guests are expected, as well as Chiang Mai and Pai in the country’s north and Phuket, another of Thailand’s tropical islands.


In total, Chabad in Thailand is expecting some 6,000 guests at 22 Seders this year where guests will be provided with three tons of matzah, 2,220 bottles of wine, 22,000 portions of chicken, beef and salmon, and four tons of salad.

“There is a place for personal Seders, but there is a special power to being with so many people, especially Jews from across the spectrum,” said Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm, director of Bangkok’s Chabad traveller center.

“You can’t imagine the feeling when 200 children go up to the stage and say the “Mah Nishtanah”[“Four Questions”] together or when 800 men sing [Passover favorite] “Echad Mi Yodea?” [“Who Knows One?”] together. It is a unifying energy that is hard to describe. The feeling I get in particular when I look across the room at the very large crowd sitting together—haredim [very religious Jews] with mostly non-practicing Jews—is unimaginable.”

A world away from Thailand’s tropical beaches and palm trees, some 3,000 Jews remain in
the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine whose Jewish population has plummeted due to the conflict in the region.

In order to help provide the Jewish residents with Passover essentials, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Donetsk, arranged the shipment of three tons of matzah to the city, along with thousands of aid packages, including wine, oil and a freshly printed Russian-language Haggadah.

These provisions were sponsored by the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews and the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS,  the umbrella group for Jewish communities throughout the former Soviet Union.

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