Tanya Printed on the Frozen Continent

Shabbat with the penguins. Alfasi in Antarctica on Friday.

Chabad has gone where no Jewish movement has gone before: Antarctica. After opening Chabad houses in almost every corner of the world, the Hasidic ultra-Orthodox movement has now sent an emissary to one of the world’s coldest places. Last Wednesday, Chabad emissary Meir Alfasi set sail from Argentina to Antarctica, heading off, he said, “on a mission from the Rebbe.”

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe issued a directive that the Tanya [the foundational book of Lubavitch Hasidism] be printed in every place where there are Jews, even if it is just one Jew living in a remote place,” Alfasi told Israel Hayom from the frozen continent. “There are several Jewish scientists living in Antarctica, as well as Jewish travelers, of course, who visit.”

One of the greatest challenges to Chabad emissaries in remote places is the religious requirement to pray in a minyan, or quorum of 10. The other great challenge is obtaining kosher food. Alfasi came well prepared. “We took a ship from Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. There were six Israeli Jews and four other Jews from around the world. Two of them work in the ship’s control room, and they even speak Hebrew, so we have a minyan,” Alfasi said. “The trip takes 10 days, including two days to arrive and two to return. I brought two packages of sliced bread and several spreads, as well as fruit and vegetables, so in terms of food, I managed.”

The trip was not easy. “The first two days were very difficult. We traveled through a very stormy passage,” Alfasi said.

Despite the conditions, Alfasi did not forgo any of his Jewish customs. “It was a very exciting Shabbat, which I experienced with another religious guy. We sang Shabbat songs and ate challah as well as frozen salmon,” he said.

Being at the edge of the world during the southern summer meant several additional hours of daylight. “Shabbat ended at 11:30 p.m.,” Alfasi said, “So we had even more time to enjoy it. There is no better way to bring in Shabbat than in a white environment, surrounded by floating icebergs, snowy mountains, penguins and dolphins.”

Alfasi has undertaken the project of printing more than 50 Tanya books in more than 40 different countries he has visited, including India, Chile, Albania, Brazil, Italy and the Floating Islands of Peru.

11 Comments

  • 1. Milhouse wrote:

    Nobody lives on Antarctica; the Jews mentioned in the article, like everyone else who works in Antarctica, is just there for a year, to work. It’s like people working on an oil field; they don’t live there, they’re just there to work for a few months or a year and then go home. I doubt the Rebbe meant for the tanya to be printed at every oil field or construction site where a Jew might be found for a year.

  • 2. Wow! wrote:

    Isn’t it freezing there!!! How is it bearable!?!? Is it livable, people actually live there!?

  • 4. facts wrote:

    Hate to break his bubble but that is not the first tanya there. Miss Mac, a teacher in beth Rivkah in Melbourne brought one there at least 15 years ago

  • 5. unbelivable wrote:

    wowowowowo that’s amazing!!!
    im sure that the rebbe is very proud!!
    keep up your good work!!

  • 6. to #4 wrote:

    Read the article again. This is the first time a Tanya was PRINTED in Antarctica.

  • 7. To #1 wrote:

    Instead of hiding behind a cute nickname on the internet and pontificating about what the Rebbe does or doesn’t want, Rabbi Alfasi is actually out in the world DOING something. Maybe he’s wrong, maybe he’s right, but at least he is trying to do what the Rebbe wants…

  • 8. not the first wrote:

    Rabbi Shabsi Alpern,senior shliach in Brazil, had printed a tanya there at least 30 years ago.

  • 9. Its the 2nd Printing in Antartica! wrote:

    First Tanya in Antartica was printed, i believe, by Rabbi Shabsy Alpern, head shliach to Brazil, many many years ago.

  • 10. Great! wrote:

    To 4 this Chosid is printing. To 1 there is more to it than just printing where Yidden live.

  • 11. dada wrote:

    I know him he was everywhere in the planet. Half the Mumbay pictures of the Chabad House where his shots.

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