KATHMANDU — A strike by Israeli diplomats over salaries has foiled preparations in Nepal for what coordinators say is the world’s biggest celebration of the Jewish Passover holiday, organizers announced Tuesday.
An Orthodox Jewish group organized the Passover feast in Kathmandu every year, attracting hundreds of people, including Israeli tourists from around the world.
But the massive celebration on April 14 relies on the Israeli embassy in Nepal to help import supplies for the feast to the Himalayan nation.
“We have a problem, we have not been able to get any food shipments through so far for this Passover,” said Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz, co-director of Chabad House Nepal.
Israeli Foreign Ministry employees on Sunday ratcheted up plans for a full-scale strike at home and at diplomatic missions abroad.
“I hope the strike will end soon, if it ends in the next 3-4 days, we can still try to organize the celebration like every year,” Lifshitz told AFP.
Hanan Goder-Goldberger, Israel’s ambassador to Nepal, defended the strike and said he hoped the dispute over pay and staff conditions would be resolved soon.
“All diplomats are entitled to a decent salary, but my colleagues from other countries get double what I get, it is not fair,” Goder-Goldberger told AFP.
“I am sorry the cargo is stuck and causing a big problem for people who want to celebrate Passover… but I am optimistic we can reach agreement soon.”
Traditionally, Passover is celebrated with only close family, but around 25 years ago the embassy began to invite Israeli tourists in Kathmandu to share in a meal, kicking off an event that organizers say is the world’s largest “seder.”
The Passover holiday celebrates the flight of the 12 tribes of Israel from slavery in Egypt 3,000 years ago.