By Mendel Super…

Australia and New Zealand welcome a pandemic-free holiday

As the coronavirus began its deadly march across the globe a little more than a year ago, Passover was on the minds of Jews worldwide. Seder without the family? Where to obtain matzahkosher wine and other Passover essentials? For many of the Jews “Down Under,” this magnified their usual challenges. While many of their American peers could order their supplies with two-day shipping, in Australia and New Zealand, that wasn’t an option.

Jews in the metropolitan areas could shop at the local kosher supermarkets and even some major chains, or call their local Chabad-Lubavitch centers for help. In the sparsely populated regional areas, where sighting a rabbi is only slightly more likely than spying bigfoot, many rely on Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia’s in-person Seders, run by dozens of rabbinical students held in some of the continents most remote locales. An impossibility at that time, instead, Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia (RARA) shipped “Seder-to-Go” boxes to thousands of rural Jews, and Chabad of Auckland did the same in New Zealand.

This year however, while many around the world are still living in the shadow of Covid-19, and some countries are back in lockdown, Jews Down Under are celebrating a truly liberating festival. With borders hermetically sealed for more than a year now, virus cases are far and few between.

In New Zealand, Rabbi Mendel and Esther Hecht are hosting hundreds over the holiday with no social-distancing measures in sight. “Aside from the closed borders,” Rabbi Mendel Hecht tells, “the country is completely open; no masks, no distancing.”..

Read the full article on News here. [PHOTO: Kids bake matzah at the Chabad of Auckland Hebrew School.]