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A Seder for No One?

A Seder for No One?

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Although our destination this Pesach was Mancora, Peru, our flight landed at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, and our plan was to spend several days there helping the Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Blumenfeld, with a variety of Passover-related activities before travelling to Mancora the day before the Seder. We set up a website to let people know about our Seder which enabled us to track reservations from afar.

Mancora attracts Israeli tourists primarily as a surfing destination, and because the weather had been pretty bad, most people were staying away. On Saturday night, we found out that the two local Jews we had been in contact with in Mancora had decided to leave town for the duration of the storm, leaving us with just one confirmed guest, a Jew who lived in a town 30 minutes north. A Seder for one Jew who would otherwise not attend one is just as important as a Seder for two, ten, or fifty, so we got to work assembling all the Passover necessities, making the conscious decision to think positively about our upcoming experience.

We flew from Lima to Piura, and when we landed we turned on our phones only to discover that Jacob, our only guest, would be unable to attend. The driver we had ordered for the four-hour drive to Mancora had arrived, so we loaded the car up with our many Passover-related parcels, and began the drive to Mancora, unsure if we would be making a Seder for anyone other than ourselves.

The roads were unpaved, it was a steamy 90 degrees in a car with no air conditioning, and we were wedged between the pots, burners, matzah, paper goods, wine, and raw chickens we had brought for the seder.

After stopping twice to refill the air in the tires (a common occurrence in these parts), we finally made it to Mancora at around 5:00pm, leaving us with a mere 24 hours to find guests and prepare for the Seder. We registered at the hostel, schlepped our things inside, and headed out, grabbing the posters with the Seder information we had printed in New York.

We hadn't walked three steps when two Israelis came running towards us, yelling “matzah, matzah!” What a relief—we now had two guests for the Seder! After a brief conversation, they told us that they were planning to leave town the next morning, but since there would be a Seder, they would extend their tickets.

While we were out hanging up our signs, we received word that the people who had previously canceled would be there after all. Things were definitely looking up!

We spent the rest of the night preparing our room in the hostel, which involved lots of cleaning, rearranging, and covering, doing our best to make it kosher for Passover.

The next morning, while we were outside burning the chametz, three more Israelis approached us, and were thrilled to hear that there would be a Seder that evening.

Time was racing by and there was still much to do. Shopping for fresh produce at the market, cooking, setting the table, reviewing the haggadah—there wasn’t a moment to spare. Thank G‑d, everything went smoothly, and we were soon welcoming our guests to our Seder table in the hostel garden.

We were in the midst of reading the haggadah together when we noticed a couple staring at us instead of entering the hostel. “What’s going on?” the woman asked.

Photo taken before the holiday
Photo taken before the holiday

“It’s a Passover Seder,” one of the Israelis replied.

“Passover?! You mean Pesach!” she exclaimed.

They explained that they were both Jewish, knew all about Passover, but didn’t know when it actually started. They had been traveling for a while and were somewhat disconnected from “real life”.

It was a beautiful Seder, with perfect weather, good camaraderie, lots of singing and sharing of Passover insights, and the food was pretty tasty too, if we may say so ourselves.

Looking around at the nine Jewish souls at the table, we almost had to pinch ourselves. It felt like a personal Passover miracle. We hope that our small Seder brought some nachas to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, who was the champion of all Jews, no matter which remote corner of the world they may find themselves.


Mendel Wolowik & Shmuli Sputz
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