Next Monday sees two worlds collide: not only does April 14 mark the start of Khmer New Year but it is also the first day of the Jewish festival of Passover. And for the first time the Phnom Penh-based Chabad Jewish Center of Cambodia is organising a community Seder Night dinner in Siem Reap, at Asian Square restaurant.
The Passover Seder is a traditional feast held on the first of the eight days of Passover, commemorating the Jews’ exodus from ancient Egypt. Typically celebrated at home, a service is also held during the meal led by the head of the family. At Monday’s Seder, this role will be taken up by Rabbis Betzalel Gopin and Tzvi Freund, both from New York.
The dinner will consist of soup, salads, a chicken dish, potatoes and vegetables as well as the Seder plate, which contains symbolic foods such as bitter herbs – horseradish, for example – representing the bitterness of slavery, and haroset, made from chopped nuts, apples, cinnamon and wine, to signify the mortar with which Jewish slaves made bricks.
Rabbi Freund is on what he describes as a “Jew hunt” around town, spreading the word among expats or tourists who may be interested in attending.
“The Chabad in Phnom Penh have been here a couple of times, and obviously realised that there’s enough of a Jewish presence here,” he says. “We just arrived but we’re going to go around, call people and ask if they know of any other Jews, and invite them to the Seder.”
Tickets for $25 can be purchased in advance on the Chabad website: http://www.jewishcambodia.com