How do hundreds of Yeshiva Bocuhrim prepare to leave their homes and set up the largest network of Passover sedorim in 82 countries around the world?
That was the discussion for the 500 rabbinical students who gathered in Crown Heights on Tuesday. The day, a Yom Iyun, was dedicated to helping them prepare for the unique challenges and experiences of running a Passover Seder in far-flung cities around the world. Everything from how to deal with the foreign language and recruitment to the logistics and special Halachic circumstances they might find themselves in. This Year’s Pesach program is expected to reach an estimated 50,000 Jews in some 190 different communities.
Chairing the Yom Iyun was Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice-chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch Who oversees the Merkos Shlichus program and budget. Stressing the critical importance of the communal Passover Sedarim and bringing the fifth child to the table, he spoke to the bochurim about the key role they have in fighting rising trends of intermarriage and assimilation. For many of the communities the bochurim’s visit will be the only traditional Jewish infrastructure they have for the entire year.
“Don’t underestimate the message and influence you will have on the communities you visit,” Rabbi Kotlarsky told the bochurim. “The Rebbe wants each and every single one of you to revolutionize Jewish life and identity for those you encounter.”
While the students have all experienced the Passover Seder at home, the experience of leading a public seder under ‘extreme’ conditions requires special preparation. Rabbi Yosef Vigler, The Rov and Chabad emissary to Queen, NY, gave a shiur about the many issues the bochurim may encounter while abroad. Scenarios such as where to check for chametz when staying in multiple locations, and the halachic implications of communities where the sun doesn’t set and the Seder can’t begin until after 9:00 in the evening present unique challenges.
Rabbi Yossi Jacobson addressed the public oratory skills and various techniques needed to successfully tailor and engage these participants at the seder.
Following the day’s events, which also included a special video of the Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Nejar who coordinates Merkos Shlichus gave the bochurim special hagados printed for them to use at the sedarim they will conduct.