By Yoav Cerralbo, The Korea Herald
Tonight is the first night of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, and, for many people of the Jewish faith, the high holidays could be a lonely time.
Away from their homes, from their families and their community, Jews have to find creative ways to hold a service together.
Luckily, for many years, the USFK at Yongsan has welcomed Jewish civilians to participate in the holidays with their brothers and sisters in the military.
This year, Jews living in Korea don’t have to feel lonely or guilty that they are missing the holidays, because, for the first time in Korea, a Chabad House has opened up in Itaewon.
Chabad is one of the largest Hasidic movements in Orthodox Judaism, with over 4,000 emissaries around the world.
“There is a joke that says, Wherever there is Coca Cola, there’s Chabad, and we know of a few places where there is Chabad and no Coca Cola,” Rabbi Osher Litzman joked.
The Chabad House is more than a place of worship; it’s a place where Jews can congregate and pick up valuable kosher foods.
“It’s the embassy for the Jewish people around the world,” he said. For Rosh Hashanah, the rabbi is expecting a huge turnout.
So far, he has been holding services at his apartment, which doubles as a Chabad House. Litzman is on the lookout for a new home, preferably two floors, to not only house his family but to also hold Jewish services.
“I’m getting many phone calls from Jews here asking for help with all sorts of matters,” he said. “This is more than an embassy, because we are open 24 hours.”
The Rabbi estimates that there are over 400 people of the Jewish faith living in Korea working as English teachers, diplomats or doing business for a few months or longer.
Just last week, he and his wife Mussy welcomed the newest member of the Jewish family in Korea, their first son and second child.
Their son is the first Hasidic child born in Korea, at a time where there are many firsts for the local Jewish community.
A few months ago, the Rabbi found a cattle farmer who would sell him milk. From there, he blesses the milk to make it kosher. Kosher foods are those that conform to the Jewish dietary laws.
Mussy has made lots of different dairy products which are available for all Jews looking to keep a kosher home.
The next step is to bring in a Shochet — a Rabbi — who specializes in the preparation of kosher meat.
For more information concerning the services Litzman provides, visit www.jewish.kr