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The Chabad House,situated in the crowded by-lanes of dusty Paharganj,has welcomed travellers with a bottle of water,bananas and bread.

The Chabad House today wakes up to that rare event on Jewish calendar — Birkat Hachamah or the Blessing of Sun held every 28 years

The Chabad House,situated in the crowded by-lanes of dusty Paharganj,has welcomed travellers with a bottle of water,bananas and bread. Now,15 years after its inception,Delhi’s Chabad House,the oldest in India,is gearing up for Passover,to remember the exodus of Israelites from Egypt and their 400 years of bondage. But before they sit down for Seder,the ceremonial dinner,the Chabad House will observe that rare event on Jewish calendar — “Birkat Hachamah” or the Blessing of Sun,held every 28 years,on Wednesday. This is to celebrate the “sun’s return to the position it occupied on the fourth day of Creation”.

At the Chabad House,the young Rabbi Yoel and his wife Miera are following a thorough to-do list,cleaning the kitchen of every last crumb of unleavened bread that would make it unsuitable for preparation of kosher,scrubbing the walls and supervising the kosher food,where “utmost care is taken of the quality of the food and meat and dairy products are never mixed”. “The rabbi will not touch anything which is not kosher. What he learns in his formative years,besides the Scripture,is how to make kosher,” says Remon Ezra,a 50-year-old associated with the Chabad House since 1994. Busy preparing to host over a hundred people at the Passover Seders,Ezra explains the significance of the Passover,“It is a time when people get together and the story of Exodus is told. We celebrate it with prayers,songs and storytelling.”

While the more devout would get up early morning for the Blessing of Sun at the Chabad House,hundreds would congregate for the Passover at the rooftop of a nearby restaurant in the evening and break matza (unleavened bread) specially brought in from Israel. Astrid Josefi,busy dusting books in the library,says,“This is a good time of the year when houses are cleaned and families get together for ritual feasts.” It would be Josefi’s first Passover in India. While the pleasant Josefi visits the Chabad House twice a week,Micha,who designs clothes,observes that “Judaism brings guidance to one’s life”. The Chabad House gives people an opportunity to pray and access kosher food. “Many Israelis come to the Chabad House,because they feel at home,can use the telephone or the Internet and pray. It gives them a chance to get a feel of their religion,” says Ezra.

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First published on: 08-04-2009 at 11:24:50 pm
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