New Center in S. Korea
) With their year-old daughter in tow, Rabbi Osher
and Mussia Litzman
arrived in Seoul, South Korea, to establish the nation's first Chabad House.
They spent their first Shabbat in the capital city this past weekend and plan on distributing Passover provisions to some 250 people in the community.
South Korea currently is without a synagogue; in past years, local Jews gathered at a U.S. army base to celebrate Shabbat and holidays. But beefed-up security left some unable to participate in the services, and the pending base's closure made the Litzman's arrival all the more urgent.
"This is not my job – to look for religious activities for the Israelis or any Jewish people – [so] I need to ask you," Yigal B. Caspi, Israel's ambassador to Seoul, told three Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students who visited the country's Jewish resident last summer. "We need Judaism here. We need Chabad. I have to ask of you, please do not forget about us."
The students were among hundreds dispatched to far-flung Jewish communities across the world by Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Taking up the ambassador's request, Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Hong Kong, worked with Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky in New York to make the Litzmans' move possible.
Osher Litzman, who was appointed six months ago, first completed his duties in the Israel Defense Force before moving to South Korea. He and his wife learned Korean from an Internet-based language course.
In addition to local residents, the new Chabad House, which received a grant from the Rohr Family Foundation, will also serve tourists and business travelers.