Rabbi creates new Passover ceremony for military in Seoul
April 17, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Servicemembers and civilians preparing to celebrate Passover will have two options this year.
The Religious Retreat Center in Seoul will host its annual Passover Seders Saturday and Sunday.
The Seder is a traditional meal and remembrance of how Moses led the ancient Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt.
Meanwhile, a new rabbi sent to South Korea by a Jewish outreach organization unaffiliated with the military also will host a Seder in Seoul.
Lt. Col. Avi Weiss — an Army chaplain — already has close to 100 people for the first Seder, which has an official capacity of 120.
People are still welcome to make reservations and servicemembers won’t be turned away, he said.
“I want to ensure anybody connected to military will always be welcome,” Weiss said. “They’re the people I’m here for.”
Weiss recommends that anyone interested in the military retreat center services who doesn’t traditionally observe Passover should come on the second night, which will be less crowded.
The weekend celebration begins with Sabbath services and dinner Friday night, starting at 6:30 p.m. The first Seder begins Saturday night at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.
There will be a holiday lunch served the next day, followed by the second Seder at 8 p.m.
Defense Department personnel can make reservations to stay at the Religious Retreat Center throughout the weekend. A U.S. Forces Korea command letter authorizes all commands to grant passes to servicemembers for religious purposes this weekend.
The entire program is free, but donations are encouraged.
Weiss was instrumental in the second option. He encouraged the Chabad group to send a rabbi to South Korea. Seoul is one of the last major Asian cities without a Chabad rabbi.
On Saturday, newcomer Rabbi Osher Litzman will hold services and a Seder at the Western Co-op Residence near Dongdaemun Station.
To make reservations for the Religious Retreat Center in Seoul, call Weiss at 010-3100-3329 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Litzman is available at 010-7730-3370, or at email@example.com.