Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chinese Passover

This is the first time in four years that I'll celebrate Passover in the states (and first time in six that I'll be at my parents' house).

During my first year in Shenzhen I wondered how I would manage the holiday. My father managed to find the contact information for Chabad in Hong Kong--I was willing to go into Hong Kong for the first time if I had to. It turned out that Chabad had just (I mean, within a few weeks prior to the holiday) assigned a rabbi to Shenzhen and there would be a seder in Shekou for the first night.

I took my friend, Winnipeg, to the seder at the Nanhai Hotel--he was interested in participating in his first Passover. I wasn't sure what to expect--I hadn't met any other Jews since arriving in China, and wasn't sure how a Chabad seder would go. I was still used to the family seders with my grandfather, who would read the Haggadah in less than ten minutes. I also wasn't sure if I'd get along with the people from Chabad as I was raised with a conservative synagogue and saw myself as more of cultural Jew.

To my surprise, there were close to forty people in attendence for the first seder in Shenzhen. That night I met other Jews from all over the world--most of whom spoke English.

Though the night wasn't well planned, and the seder didn't go as smoothly as I'm sure the rabbi would have liked, it was good to connect with other people in Shenzhen--especially those who lived outside of Bao'an district. Winnipeg and I took a taxi back to the school sometime around 11. He joined in the seder the following year as well.

The next night, I hosted a smaller seder in my little apartment. I invited Jia, V. (my course coordinator), and her boyfriend J. None of them had any idea what was involved in a seder and I had to explain quite a bit of it--fortunately J. spoke Chinese quite well to help with translations and understanding.

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