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From Uganda to Panama to Norway and beyond, seders recounted the exodus

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Photos of seder preparations as seen in Turkey (L) and Norway (R) ( Photos: Rabbi  Mendy Chitrik/Ervin Kohn) 

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This year the festival of Passover was celebrated all around the world from Uganda to the UAE to Panama in style.

Despite years of separation by geographical barriers, the Jewish people worldwide commemorated the exodus from Egypt and remembered Moses bringing them to the Holy Land. This year, the global celebrations gained much press as they coincided with Easter and Eid celebrations all in the same month in a rare convergence of religious festivities. Passover celebrations in 2022 exhibited a strong cultural memory and oneness rooted in millennia-long history and tradition as usual. 

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Hailing from the Latin American nation of Panama, Rabbi Mendy Karniel of Panama Chabad when asked about festivities by thej.ca responded “It was beautiful Baruch HaShem. So many different kinds of people but everybody is together today with just one heart; it was just amazing!”

The Spanish-speaking nation has over 10,000 Jews, the largest in Central America. Most of Panama’s Jewish citizens live in Panama City, the country’s vibrant and business savvy capital. 

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In the Middle East, the birthplace of the religion itself, Pesach saw over 1000 people gathered in the UAE. This is a country which only recently opened up to Israel thanks to the Abraham Accords and it is viewed as an important sign that Jewish presence is being ‘normalized’.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey was one of the world leaders to extend his support for the Jewish community of his country on this day. The Samaritans in Gerizim also celebrated the festival, but for them Mount Gerizim is the holiest site, not Jerusalem. Also, they revere Moses as the last prophet and none who came after in biblical canon.

Elsewhere in Europe, nations with small Jewish communities such as Iceland and Austria were also able to celebrate Passover. Some nations in the continent that were decimated by the Holocaust such as Norway were also able to celebrate and still have an active Jewish presence, showing that they are determined to carry on with their ancient customs long after the Shoah!

The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda observed the Passover seder with their oiwn handmade matzah. (Photo: Wallujo Isaac)

In Uganda, the Abayudaya Jews, who follow an agricultural farming model very similar to the moshav tradition in Israel gathered together for a homegrown kosher meal made from what their community had farmed.

“We commemorate the Hebrew flight from Egypt,” says Wallajjou Isaac the hazzan at Buseta in a phone interview from East Africa. “We have a temporary wooden synagogue that is susceptible to constant termite infestation but we hope that in future we will have a better building. To build a permanent Synagogue costs a lot of money. We have to buy bricks, concrete, iron and possibly hire an architect and engineers; maybe one day!” said a hopeful Takani Joseph, also a hazzan.

The small temporary structure used by this village of over 70 Jews that has many young children seemed very cozy regardless and they had especially made their own matzah this year rather than import it!

Buseta does not have a resident rabbi, although other larger Abayudaya villages do so. There are 2000 Abayudayas and a Chabad Lubavitcher presence in the capital city of Kampala.

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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