Passover: Australian family donates 50,000 packets of matzah and wine to Jews around the world

“This aid gives them the opportunity to continue the tradition and remain faithful to the religion abroad”

In a few days the Jews will celebrate Passover, which commemorates the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. On this occasion, the Werdiger family, a philanthropic Jewish family from Australia, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency in Israel, will send more than 50,000 packets of matzah (unleavened bread) and wine to 160 Jewish communities in 60 countries in the four corners of the world.

During Passover, the Jews have a custom of eating unleavened bread for a week, a reminder that the Hebrews did not have time to proof the dough when they left Egypt.

Countries benefiting from this Passover aid include China, Mexico, Bolivia, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Japan, Namibia, Laos, Turkey and even Ukraine.

“After the difficult two years we have been through, we would like to thank the Werdiger family for their donations. Thanks to them, Jews and Israelis abroad will celebrate Passover. I salute everyone who took part in the transport and distribution of matzah packets and bottles of wine,” said Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman of the Board of the World Zionist Organization.

The Werdiger family have been donating to tsedakah (poor relief) for decades, but three years ago Chabad (Lubavitch movement) contacted them at the request of Jewish families living in countries where matzoh rarely or never exist.

“We noticed that several Jewish communities around the world were lacking matzo for the Seder, so we wanted to help them get it. Because traditions vary from one country to another, but matzah is universal for all Jews on Passover. It is important for more than 95% of Jews that they attend the Seder and it is important that every family anywhere in the world can celebrate Passover the way it should be,” said Nehama Werdiger i24NEWS.

Mazza and wine initiativeThe main camp for “Matzah and Wine” packages in Israel with Rabbi Yackov Ben-Ari

According to her, the Chabad, who distribute packets of “matzah and wine” to families, allow these communities abroad to maintain their connection to Judaism. The packages are stored in the main warehouse in Israel, then the Jewish Agency organizes the shipment and delivery of the packages all over the world.

“The matzah is the central element of the Passover festival and this little help gives them the opportunity to continue the tradition and remain faithful to the religion. Even if they don’t necessarily eat kosher, they have this symbol of Passover on hand. Some forget religion or put it aside because they are mixed with the local population, so offering them the opportunity to live their Judaism is crucial ‘ Nehama said i24NEWS.

The Jewish community in China numbers about 2,500 people compared to 1,000 in Japan and about 100 in Namibia.

“This year we are supposed to celebrate Passover with 100 people, including Jewish and Israeli tourists. We are working tirelessly around the clock to be ready for the Seder night,” said Rabbi Koptsik, Chabad Ambassador to Namibia.

Who is the Werdiger family?

Nathan Werdiger, born in Poland in 1922, was a businessman who made his fortune in textiles and real estate. He was one of Australia’s richest men and supported Jewish communities around the world.

He was one of only two brothers to survive the Holocaust. After a long period of rehabilitation in a Swiss hospital, he emigrated to Melbourne, Australia at the age of 23, where he met his wife Nehama. Originally from Kharkov, Ukraine, she is the daughter of Rabbi Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Srebriansky, one of the founders of the large Chabad community in Melbourne.

Since Nathan’s death in 2015, her son Shlomo has taken over the family business.

After the Passover holiday, the Werdiger family plans, among other things, to help Jewish families who have remained in Ukraine under Russian invasion for more than a month.

Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French site of i24NEWS

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