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WATCH: Jewish Tourists to ANTARTICA Celebrate First Ever Siyum; Had to Fast 24 Hours on Asara B’Teves

A group of Jewish adventure seekers are concluding an 11 day cruise to Antarctica, home of the penguins, during which they celebrated what have been the first ever Siyum Masechta on the continent.

The trip was organized in part by the Dan’s Deals website, which is owned by Chabad Chassid Daniel Eleff. The advertisements for the trip generated a lot of attention, and in the end, 51 religious Jews from more than a dozen cities around the world signed up for the excursion, which included sailing to the south pole.

The “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” promised to feature “walking among thousands of penguins, zodiac cruising between towering icebergs, and watching whales breaching and seals hunting. Guided hikes, snowshoe up mountains and stunning views that few have ever seen.”

The group consisted of Jews with a diverse range of backgrounds, hailing from Israel, Europe and the United States. CEO of Beth Medrash Govoah (BMG) in Lakewood, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, was one of the participants on the voyage.

The unique trip created a lot of Halachik quandaries the travelers, including how long they should fast for during Asara B’Teves this past Tuesday.

As there was no kosher food at the particular port of call, all of the kosher food had to be loaded onto the boat at a previous port in Canada.

Shabbos presented a difficulty for the Jewish travelers, requiring them to find a cruise that set sail at least three days prior to Shabbos. They also had to make sure that the majority of people traveling on the boat were non-Jews so as to allow for the ship to continue sailing even on Shabbos. There were also secular Jews on the trip which made the the voyage even more problematic from an halachik perspective. There were also instances when the sun didn’t set at all, and therefore there were questions as to when Shabbos was supposed to be marked.

Thus, it was decided that participants on the sailing expedition would have to fast for 24 hours straight for Asara B’Teves on Tuesday, as the sun did not set until 24 hours after it rose.

Members of the trip merited a few major accomplishments in Yiddishkeit. The first of which was that the first ever Minyan on the continent of Antarctica was held. This went together with the printing of the Sefer Tanya which fulfilled the wishes of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Z”L who had asked that the book should be printed in every spot in the world.

Finally, as can be seen in the video above, the group celebrated the Siyum of Mashechta Taanis, made by a participant of the trip while in Paradise Harbor, Antarctica.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

26 Responses

  1. Amazing!! Thank you so much for posting. I couldn’t get my eyes off that cute penguin who surely never heard a Davar Sh’bkdusha before. Who knows, maybe a Gilgul got its Tikkun.

  2. Who can understand Hashgacha ElYona, Divine Providence, for the numerous reasons why these wonderful yidden were called upon to Antarctica? One very interesting thing on the video; A Penguin appears on the far (viewer’s) right in the middle of the siyum, and seems like is listening..Wait… When the person doing the siyum says the words Moidim Anachnu Loch, מודים אנחנו לך – the Penguin BOWS HIS HEAD! See for yourself at about 2:50 in the video.

  3. ”printing of the Sefer Tanya which fulfilled the wishes of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Z”L who had asked that the book should be printed in every spot in the world.” so they just left a tanya there on the floor of Antarctica? is that what the rebbi meant?

  4. Obviously they did not sail to the South Pole, despite what the article says. Also, it goes tlwiyhiut saying that one must ask halachik guidance before going to a place where the sun doesn’t set.

  5. You can’t sail to the south pole. They didn’t come anywhere near the pole. The siyum was at Paradise Bay, which is 65 degrees south, as far from the south pole as Rejkjavik or Fairbanks are from the North Pole

    And of course most of the copies of the Tanya they printed came back with them, though I assume they left a copy or two on a shelf at Base Brown, in case some Jew ever comes there later and will find it.

  6. oy, the mileil and milra needed much improvement. he even mispronounced God’s name.

    btw, all longitudinal lines pass through Antarctica. so if there is a halakhic dateline and the “gerrarah” shitta of the CI is valid, what day is it?

  7. first of all the rebbe asked that the tanya be printed in all places that there are yiden.
    also the rebbe asked when printed it should be learned in the place thy printed it.
    be that bringing kdusha in that place.

  8. Was the CEO of BMG able to recruit any bachurim from Antarctica? Any good shtellers available over there? Come on, let’s get a Kollel (or Chabad house) going.
    The penguin was very cute. Star of the show.

  9. Just a few technical notes:
    1) You cannot sail to the South Pole, it is in the center of Antarctica far from the sea.
    2) The sun did not ‘set 24 hours after it rose’. At this time of year, south of the Antarctic Circle, the sun will proceed in a circle around the sky, and will neither rise nor set. It won’t set until March.

  10. born, they were not south of the Antarctic circle. Therefore the sun did set briefly at midnight.

    DrYidd, the Chazon Ish’s shita can’t be applied to Antarctica. The issue of it being chucha ut’lula for the line to pass over land, so that it’s possible to step over it, can’t be avoided, except by invoking the Bnei Tzion’s idea of a “bein hashmoshos zone”. I assume, therefore, that the CI would apply the strict shita he attributes to the rishonim, and draw the line at 125 degrees east, straight through to the pole, where all shitos break down because it’s a singularity where the whole concept of “time of day” is meaningless.

  11. I don’t mean to sound negative, but I don’t understand what is the point in this. There is nothing special about going to Mars to make a Siyum. To me it’s nothing more than just a show. If you like to go to Antarctica to have fun and to see “Niflaos Haboreh” the wonders of Hashem that’s a beautiful mitsva, but to think it’s a mitsva to organize Siyumim and reading Tanyas there is nothing impressive about it. If Hashem wanted that place to be non habitable that means Hashem is not interested in your learning there, He gets far more Nachas ruach from penguins dancing and saying Pirke Shira than a choppy Siyum!

  12. Pilpel,
    I get the sentiment. There’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying but you don’t know it all. There are NITZOITZOS MEFUZAR etc. Doesn’t sound like you’re the right judge on Nachas Ruach,
    TW, animals don’t actually say Perek Shira.
    I also don’t mean to be negative…

  13. Kinsler
    Oh you’re actually right, I forgot all about the NITZOITZOS MEFUZAR.
    So who’s going to be the next frum group to go to the sweltering Sahara dessert and the Amazon rain forest in Brazil to make Siyumim there and melaket NITZOITZOS MEFUZAR? Perhaps we should organize a group of frum yidden to take a submarine 40 thousand feet down in the middle of the ocean to make a first ever Siyum there to melaket NITZOITZOS MEFUZAR? How about making Siyum Hashas in Antarctica wouldn’t that be beautiful? I know I sound so ridiculous, but why is this group any different??
    And you really think these individuals that went to Antarctica are all on the highest levels of Kedusha to be the chosen ones to go melaket NITZOITZOS MEFUZAR? Hmmmmmmm

  14. Sorry to burst anyone’s balloon but I suspect I’m not the only YWN reader has been on an Antarctic cruise (in my case out of Ushuaia in Patagonia) where groups of yidden on the cruise formed spontaneous minyanim to daven both on the ship and at various points where we disembarked. No, not to the extent of this group but they weren’t the first at least as far as minyanim. However, I’m certain they were the first siyum and some other firsts. Watching the video makes me want to go back again. Kol hakovod to them for their efforts and to YWN for bringing us such a wonderful story. And to whitecar, I am 100000 percent jealous.

  15. Pilpul,
    To me you don’t sound so ridiculous because as I said, I know where you’re coming from. Unfortunately too many of Acheinu BN”Y think that this (and other sensational events) are the greatest Kiddush Hashem and don’t appreciate the fact that every day thousands that sit Bein Koslei Bais Medresh are making the biggest Kiddush Hashem. However, you’re being too dismisive of other factors of avodas hashem and showing you’re own Am’meratzis. Same goes to your comments regarding Nitzotzos.
    It’s quite evident that you never learnt any (or enough) sifrei chassidus or for that matter Maharal, Ramchal…
    If someone chooses to go on an adventure which is awe-inspiring [R’ Shamshon Refael Hirsh: ” Hut ihr gezehn meiner alpin?”] and brings along a gemarah and and perhaps expresses his feelings of Ahavas Hashem with a Siyum, no need to try and find the negative. Something tells me that this fellow doesn’t ‘hang out’ on YWN…

  16. Why all the negativity?

    I don’t think anyone is claiming that there’s a “chiyuv” to go make a siyum in Antarctica. They were going anyway. And someone decided to make a siyum while there. It’s not the biggest deal, but it’s not a bad thing.

    I think posters here are making a bigger deal of it than the actual mesayem did.

    Just wish a mazel tov like any other siyum and move on.

  17. I am a bit confused. Is there a printing press there that they could “PRINT” the Tanya. I am sure the Rebbe meant that he wished they would learn the Tanya EVERYWHERE.

  18. GH

    What did you do for kosher food?

    According to dans deals ( who was one of the organizers of this cruise) previous attempt by him to arrange kosher food on such a cruise privately for himself, was not successful.

  19. Allan, they took along a printer. Nowadays that’s a lot easier than when Chabad brought printing presses into Lebanon, Egypt, and other odd places, to fulfill the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s instructions to PRINT the Tanya in many locations.

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