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Seders for Everyone, Wherever They May Be

Seders for Everyone, Wherever They May Be

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Meet Aaron, a young Jew and lifelong resident of Reykjavik, Iceland. His mother Nora, was one of the most active members of the Icelandic Jewish community in the ‘90s. She organized events for Jewish families and tried to teach others. . . Tragically, she passed away at an early age, leaving two young sons. Aside from the occasional box of matzah, and the printed scroll his brother used in lieu of a real Torah at his bar mitzvah, Aaron did not get much Jewish exposure.

Who were these guys? What did they want?

It's Thursday morning, Aaron is doing some work, and he receives a phone call:

"Hi, my name is Berel. I'm a student rabbi visiting Iceland in honor of Passover. I would love to be able to get together and if at all possible, to bring you some shmurah matzah…"

Who were these guys? What did they want? His curiosity piqued, Aaron agrees to meet them at a local cafe.

Meet Berel and Aaron, two rabbinical students taking part in the Merkos Shlichut Passover program. They’ve traveled halfway across the world armed with matzahs, Haggadahs, tefillin and a lot of love.

They meet Aaron at the cafe, and the three of them begin to talk. They talk of this and that, of Jewish life in Iceland, and of the Jewish soul found in every Jew and bound eternally to the Creator.

Then Berel takes out the box of matzah and a big smile appears on Aaron's face. Naftoli brings out the tefillin. Aaron's never seen tefillin before and has no clue what they are.

After some explanation, Naftoli assists Aaron in putting on the tefillin and saying the Shema prayer. He shares some insight about this unique mitzvah. Two non-Jewish Icelandic's approach and start snapping pictures. They ask Aaron what exactly is he doing, and he replies, "This is not my typical Thursday, I don't know what this is and I can't even see it on my head, but it is something a Jew does and I feel good doing it".

AaronIt is something a Jew does and I feel good doing it tells Berel and Naftoli that he hasn't attended a Seder since he was a young child, and feels sorry that he will be in Copenhagen on the Seder night. After his meeting with these two rabbis, the idea of the Seder they will be hosting in central Reykjavik suddenly seems highly appealing.

But nothing is lost!

"Hey,” they say, “We can put you in touch with Rabbi Yitzi Lowenthal and you can go to a Seder in Denmark!"

And what of Aaron’s brother? What are his Seder plans?

"My brother is out in rural New Mexico,” he explains. “I bet there is no Chabad there…"

A quick search on Chabad.org and they discover that sure enough there is a full time Chabad House with a Seder in this town with a population of just over 5,000!

Whereas two parties had entered the cafe, now as they left, they were one. Three Jews, bound by their heritage and the Jewish moment they shared.





Naftoli Pewzner and Berel Paltiel
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