Shabbos with the Penguins


We’ve grown so accustomed to Chabad-Lubavitch’s ubiquity that it is no longer surprising to see Chabad houses popping up everywhere from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Mediterranean archipelago of Malta. But not long ago, Chabad outdid even itself. Chabad traveled to Antarctica.

The mission was inspired by a network engineer named Dick Heyman who, 2 years earlier, led the continent’s first Sabbath service. Chabad ambassador Meir Alfasi led the far-reaching mission armed with copies of the Tanya, the central text of Chabad pedagogy, and boxes stuffed with kosher bread and canned peas.

But in a land with no sunset, how did the Jews at the bottom of the world even know what time to light the Sabbath candles? They followed the times observed by the closest Jewish community, in Christchurch, New Zealand. While in other places with strange sun patterns, some follow the Jerusalem solar calendar, in this case, the choice was between Christchurch or Jerusalem, and what can we say? The Jews went with Christchurch.

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