(JTA) — A Chabad house has opened in Laos, making it the 92nd country with a permanent Chabad presence.
The two-story villa in the city of Luang Prabang contains a large dining facility, synagogue, lounges and a garden with a pond. It is located near guesthouses that are frequented by Israeli travelers, mostly backpackers who tour the Far East after their army service.
The Chabad house already runs a kosher restaurant, holds weekly prayer services, Torah classes and Shabbat celebrations for about 50 people, according to Chabad.org. It put together a last-minute prayer service with a minyan for an expatriate Englishman who needed to say Kaddish for his father.
Rabbi Sholom and Tamar Glitzenstein, the new Chabad emissaries in Laos, arrived at the beginning of the year to set up the Chabad house, where they also live. The rabbi served as an intern in Bangkok, Thailand, before marrying and agreeing to serve in Laos.
The Glitzensteins have brought in people through social media as well as visiting tourist hot spots to personally reach Jewish travelers.
“When people come here, they are open to new experiences — open to learning and growth,” Tamar Glitzenstein told Chabad.org. “We’re here to help them reach the potential they have pent up in their souls, just waiting to be tapped.”
Chabad’s Roving Rabbis have visited Laos before for summers and major holidays.