This past Tuesday, four hundred bochurim about to head out…
Hatomim Naftali Hertz Pawzner and his chavrusa Hatomim Menachem Sassonkin arrived last weekend in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of the world, to prepare for the public seder they will hosting for the Jewish residents of the city as well as for the Jewish tourists.
This chavrusa is one of 310 additional chavrusa’s who arrived in hundreds of locations around the world in order to prepare for the public Sedorim, as part of Merkos Shlichus program.
Before they left for their shlichus, they two took part in what has become an annual tradition for the Merkos Shlichus Pesach program, a Yom Iyun that was held this past Sunday at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights. The goal of the evening was to provide the bochurim with the tools to lead a public seder, which requires a comprehensive knowledge of the relevant halachos as well as the ability to create a positive Jewish experience for the usually diverse and unaffiliated crowd.
Do you have to sell your personal chometz? What are the steps to getting a kitchen ready for Pesach? Do the seder guests need to eat all the shiurim? What is the most important part of the seder? Does a hotel need an eruv?
Rabbi Chaim Schapiro, Shliach to Morristown, NJ, addressed these halachic issues in depth with specific suggestions for unique Merkos Shlichus situations, urging the bochurim to take careful notes and to consult their Merkos Shlichus guides, commenting on the urgent but barely audible phone calls he usually receives from his students attempting to make Pesach in places like Cambodia and Kazakhstan.
In his typical engaging fashion, Rabbi Mendel Samuels, Shliach to Farmington, CT, presented the bochurim with practical ideas for running an enjoyable and exciting seder, sharing vignettes culled from his many years in the field. He stressed the importance of making everyone feel comfortable and with a sense of enthusiasm about the evening, because as Shluchim of the Rebbe, they have to potential to make it a life-changing one for some.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director of the Merkos Shlichus program, had the final words for the bochurim. While Merkos Shlichus is a great privilege, it also carries great responsibility. He exhorted the bochurim to be cognizant of who and what they are representing at every moment of their Shlichus, and specified the standards that are expected of all participants. He reminded the bochurim not to neglect their own needs like the seder requirements and adequate nutrition.
After the group photo, a large collection of Pesach materials were distributed. With the bochurim fully prepared for the task that awaits them, the Merkos Shlichus team is currently working around the clock, handling the logistic of sending 622 bochurim to make seders literally across the globe.