Embassy Strike Threatens Nepalese Seder, World’s Largest

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Where is the world’s largest seder? If you guessed Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York, LA, London, Paris, or any other major hub of Jewish life in the world, you’d be wrong.

Since 1988, around 1,000 Jews (and up to 1,800) have gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal, deep in the Himalayas, to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt. But this year, that tradition is threatened by a strike among Israeli Foreign Ministry employees, shutting down the embassy and preventing the kosher supplies from being imported.

What are so many Jews doing in Nepal, you ask? The spot is an incredibly popular backpacking destination for Israelis after they have completed their military service. The Israeli ambassador to Nepal stated that around 10,000 Israelis visit the country each year to enjoy the spiritual surroundings and budget-friendly economy.

Describing the event in 2012, Amy Yee of The Atlantic reported that the importation of the massive amounts of supplies is a months-long endeavor. The supplies are shipped by sea from Israel to India, where they are trucked up to Nepal.

Yee describes the massive amounts of food needed to feed the thousand or more people who show up:

“Bath tub-sized pots bubbled with matzo ball soup, 900 chicken hunks in lava-like tomato sauce, and the googly eyes of a thousand boiled eggs[…] Big plastic basins, the kind used to wash clothes or babies, were piled high with diced purple onions and tomatoes[…]1,000 bottles of kosher wine, 1,100 pounds of matzo, 150 pounds of salami, 180 pounds of oil, hundreds of cans and jars of gefilte fish, tuna, olives, pickles, and other kosher fare arrived from Israel and New York days before Passover.”

Though the seder is technically a private even hosted by the Chabad House of Kathmandu, the importation is impossible without the embassy. With the ministry’s recent strike, Chabad is considering everything from baking matzo to asking individual travelers to bring in the supplies, piece by piece.

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