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A Postcard from Katmandu

בית חבד קטמנדו

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

"Shalom Sivan. This is Chani Lifshitz. We reopened the Chabad house in Katmandu in recent days, and now preparations for the Seder are in full gear. I wrote something that I recommend others should read in order to get a glimpse of what I learn here at the Seder table each year:

Eli just wanted to leave home since, after all, how much can a person bear to hear the mournful sobbing of his mother? It's been four years since the tragic death of his father, but his home still looks and feels like a house of mourning, and he is suffocating. This is the first time he has been able to breathe, to fill his lungs with pure mountain air.

Noa is also with us. At home, every Thursday, she would go to visit her father in prison. When she got on the bus, she would look around in every direction, concerned that someone would recognize her. Together with her father, she too has been a prisoner. But here - she can go free.

Mor is here too. She can no longer withstand the pressure of her studies, the exams, the papers and reports, the academic rat race. The Festival of Freedom is exactly what her soul needs now.

Everyone comes with a story. After 22 years and tens of thousands of tourists, I learned one thing: There is no one who does not have a story. And all these personal stories need to be gathered together around the Seder table. To tell the magnificent common story of us all, the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Before the coronavirus, there were 2,000 people here every year, the world's largest Seder.

I do not know how many people will come this year. The world has changed. I am therefore asking everyone, regardless of where you are reading this, to try and bring to your holiday table those who have a story, those who have not led a typical life, those whose secrets may be well-hidden - and invite them over. Look for the Eli, the Noa, and the Mor around you. 'Operation Pesach,' currently being launched, includes cleaning, scrubbing, organizing, and running numerous errands. But among these Pesach preparations is the overriding concern that everyone will be a participant in our communal Exodus from Egypt three weeks from now.

Happy holidays from Katmandu."


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