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Showing Posts from Darwin, Australia  |  View All

Six days before Passover, we touched down in Darwin, armed with our precious cargo of wine, matzah, frozen chicken, and other Seder and Judaic necessities. We only had a few days to make our rounds and visit Darwin’s Jews, so we hit the road first thing Wednesday morning.

Our first stop was at Jordan’s apartment in the heart of Darwin. Having only recently moved to town, we were the first Passover Australia rabbis to meet him, and we hit it off immediately. He is warm and intellectual, and we found ourselves schmoozing like old friends. We shared some Chassidic thoughts, helped him do the mitzvah of tefillin, and put a mezuzah on his door, establishing his new home as a Jewish beacon in the Territories.

Our next appointment was with Robert, an elderly Jew full of great stories and a genuine love of gefilte fish. We spoke with him for a long time, enthralled by tales of his travels around the world. We helped him wrap tefillin, assuaging his protests by reminding him that a Jew is always connected to G‑d, and promised to have lots of gefilte fish at the Seder.

Another notable Darwin encounter was with Dan and Sara, a wonderful Israeli couple who apparently maintain a very busy schedule. After trying their house for the third time, we were just pulling out of the driveway when they returned home. They seemed thrilled to see us and invited us inside. As the sun set, the four of us sat together reminiscing about our Holy Land and what it means to be a proud Jew living thousands of miles away.

On Thursday afternoon we had two visits scheduled—with Lydia and Javier. But then Javier informed us that he was in fact visiting Lydia’s house, so we were able to combine the visit and spend more time with both. When we entered the house, we couldn’t help but notice Hebrew papers scattered all over the table. As it turns out, Javier, a Majorcan Jew with a passion for Judaism, is learning Hebrew with Sagi, Lydia’s 14-year-old son. What an incredible, if incongruent sight—a bona fide Hebrew class in one of the most remote towns in Australia! After settling down on the couch for a good chat, we discovered that Sagi had never had the opportunity to put on tefillin, and so we helped him do the mitzvah and say the blessings, followed by some spirited Chassidic dancing. On our way out, we affixed a mezuzah on the front door, and then headed with Javier to his house, where we recited the afternoon prayers together and also presented him with a brand new mezuzah.

The Seder itself was magical. As night fell, we made kiddush and formally began the seder—the largest one Darwin has yet seen. Our guests included an excitable crew of Israeli backpackers, some American students, and even a couple from Germany. As the 65 Jews sat around the table, reliving the Exodus and attempting to experience personal freedom, a palpable feeling of warmth and Jewish unity spread across the room. We progressed through the haggadah, matzah, maror, and four cups of wine, and all too soon we were singing “L'shanah haba’ah b'Yerushalayim” – “Next year in Jerusalem.” Afterwards, some of the Israelis led the crowd in a boisterous rendition of “Echad Mi Yodea” and “Chad Gadya.”

Our only regret when we returned to Melbourne was that we did not have more time to spend with our Darwin friends. They are a unique and tenacious group of people whose connection to Judaism is truly admirable. It is our hope and prayer that we will be reunited with them in Jerusalem long before next Passover, with the speedy arrival of Moshiach!


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