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Passover Campaing Brings Over 2,000 to Chabad Seders in UK

Thursday, 23 April, 2009 - 9:00 am

pesach ad.jpgA record number of over 2,000 attended Passover seders with Chabad in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland following a coordinated publicity campaign.

As well as the interactive and content-laden PassoverUK megasite, which was available for the third year running, Chabad emissaries throughout the United Kingdom joined together to create an advertising campaign in the lead up to the festival.

The advertisement, with the tagline "There’s a Place for You at Our Seder Table," provided readers with a link to the PassoverUK website and telephone hotline through which they could find a seder nearby and reserve a seat.

In London, large crowds of close to 1,000 people in total packed communal seders in Hendon, Ilford, Wimbledon, Kensington and Bloomsbury.

"We set places for 180 people", says Rabbi Dovid Katz, educational director of Chabad of Hendon, who led a seder for Hebrew speakers. "On the night, more and more guests kept coming through the door."

"In the end, we had over 220 Israelis from all walks of life," says Rabbi Katz. "It was one of the most successful seders we’ve ever had. Everyone had a good time and they ended up staying until after 1:30am singing, dancing and talking."

For the second year, Chabad of Buckhurst Hill held a communal seder. "We worked closely with Chabad of Ilford to provide as many people as possible with a place at a seder table on both nights," says Rabbi Odom Brandman. "We had close to 50 people squeeze into our house."

Outside the capital, communal seders took place throughout United Kingdom attracting in excess of 1,000 people in locations as diverse as Edinburgh, Brighton, Oxford and Belfast.

"I hadn’t been to a Passover seder in some years," admits Erica Steinhauer who attended Chabad of Oxford’s communal seder. "It was heart-warming to see so many Jews celebrating together in a family environment. I met a lot of new people and the whole experience was thought-provoking. The food was also delicious!"

1.jpgIn both Manchester and Birmingham, seders were organised in old age homes allowing the elderly and immobile the opportunity to share in the Passover experience. At Andrew Cohen House, a sheltered housing project for the elderly in Birmingham, two yeshiva students, Pesach Klein and Michoel Rose, ran seders and festival services for residents.

"About 45 people had their seder with us," says Rabbi Yonoson Golomb, director of Chabad of Sheffield. "It was a very mixed crowd from the Orthodox, Reform or no affiliation at all, and from England, USA, Israel, South Africa and Germany."

With no kosher bakery, Rabbi Golomb came up with an innovative idea to provide the community with fresh bread in time for Shabbat. "My wife and mother-in-law stay up into the night baking a mountain of challas. We sold them in the local community with the proceeds going to Laniado Hospital in Israel. We called it a Challathon," exclaims Rabbi Golomb.

Three new Chabad centres in Bristol, Edinburgh and South Kensington offered students, local community members and tourists the opportunity to experience traditional Passover seders.

In Edinburgh, the UK’s second most visited tourist destination, Rabbi Pinchus and Gitty Weinman welcomed around 70 people to their seder table. "This was the first communal seder of its kind in the city and we hosted students, tourists, Israeli backpackers as well as people from the local area," says Rabbi Weinman

Rabbi Dovid and Leah Usiskin, directors of Chabad of Bristol, held their first communal seder in city. "We managed to attract an eclectic crowd from very different backgrounds who would have otherwise had nowhere to go," says Rabbi Usiskin.


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