Nepal Virtual Jewish History Tour
By Ariel Scheib
The “Seder on Top of the World” is one of the largest known Passover Seders in the world, held annually in Kathmandu, Nepal. This tradition began in the mid 1990s amongst Jewish travelers. Lubavitch rabbis are dispatched every year to the main Chabad house in Kathmandu, Nepal to prepare for the arrival of thousands of Jewish backpackers. They bring with them hundreds of pounds of kosher matzah, food and Haggadahs (Seder prayer book) to provide for an army of Jews. Jews arrive from all over the world; including Israel, America, Australia, and Europe to trek up the Himalayas for Passover. Many of the Jews that come for the Passover Seder are not Orthodox, but are in search of a unique religious experience. The Seder is held in an enormous army tent pitched in front of the Israeli embassy. In 2006, nearly 1,500 Israelis celebrated Passover in Kathmandu, ignoring travel warnings concerning political turbulence in the region. In 2007, Rabbi Yechezkel Lifshitz announced the opening of a second Chabad house in the city of Pokhara, designed to be a source of Jewish life and traditions for travelers in that region of Nepal.
In mid-2012, Israeli medical students donated a collection of books from the Medical School for International Health (Soroka University Medical Center), Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba. The books were delivered from Israel to Dr. Rajesh Gangol, Deal of the Patan Academy for the Health Sciences at the Patan Hospital in Nepal. There has been continuing cooperation and knowledge exchange between professional staff in Israel and Nepal in recent years.
A magnuitude 8.1 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015. In the days following Israel sent doctors, humanitarian supplies, medical supplies, and disaster relief experts to the affected areas.
In July 2020, the Embassy of Israel in Kathmandu dispatched 400 units of personal protective equipment, 1,000 units of KN95 masks, 10,000 units of surgical masks, 5,000 pairs of surgical gloves and 500 liters of sanitizer to the Ministry of Social Development in Province 2, which was worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources: “Nepal: 1,500 Israelis take part in Seder,” Ynet, (April 13, 2006);
Map: CIA Factbook Public Domain.