Passover often means traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones or participating in a Pesach program. So how do you celebrate now that Coronavirus has interrupted your plans?
Traditionally, Passover is the celebration of spring, rebirth, hope, and freedom. And for many, it also means travel. Some choose to replace ridding the home of chametz, changing the dishes, and buying Kosher for Passover food with an eight-day Pesach program traveling to destinations all over the world including Italy, Thailand, and Israel. These countries, as well as many others, host those who want to enjoy a change of scenery while strictly keeping Kosher during the holiday of Passover.
Others tend to gather with large groups of family and friends to read the traditional and familiar words of the Haggadah and sing joyous songs depicting the experiences and feelings of the Jews seeking freedom from slavery.
Unfortunately, this year, Coronavirus brought disorder and stress to Passover. How will Seder (which literally means “order”) take place in a world that is anything but orderly? The only safe option this year is to host a virtual seder or observe with just the family you live with. With have travel bans and quarantine situations, you may not be able to travel to your normal Passover locale, and may even find yourself hosting for your family for the first time if your program was canceled or if you normally observe with family.
However, there are still wonderful ways to celebrate this critically important holiday that can bring meaning to both our families and the stranger. Passover is the time to remember what we have overcome in the past, and how we can help others for the future. We can open our doors to not only Elijah but to those who are in need at this challenging time. This is not a time to hide in fear, but it is a time to be prepared while helping others. So how can we have a fun and meaningful Seder experience in the midst of such uncertainty?
- Bring together a smaller group - this year should be just with the immediate family you live with! Just because your celebration is smaller, does not make it any less joyous. Adults can read the four questions and even search for the afikomen. Even small groups are just too risky right now. Stay at home.
- Involve your kids/partners in cooking - so one person is not left to do all the work involved for the courses of the Seder, even if this means each member of your immediate family is assigned one dish. Just make sure to wash your hands before, during and after whatever you are making and don't share utensils. If this is your first year hosting because you can't make it to your normal venue, you don't have to do all the work. Use an affordable Seder Plate or invest in a designer Seder Plate you'll have for years. You can also drop off food with an elderly neighbor who cannot attend a seder so they still feel included.
- Change up the menu a bit or keep it exactly the same, whichever gives you and your loved ones a sense of comfort. You can have a simple meal of roast chicken, potatoes and a vegetable and still have a lovely seder.
- Use technology: If you can't be with all the members of your family or a particular designated reader, Skype or FaceTime them in - it's the next best thing to being there. Virtual seders are definitely an option this year.
- Make it festive! Even if your plans have changed, you can still make it fun. Have everyone wear 10 Plague headbands, sport some Passover apparel, or get a unique afikomen prize for the winner. Make sure to get any orders in soon, as we don't now how mail will be affected in the coming days.
- And finally, say an extra prayer for those you are with, and those who you are missing this Pesach. L'Shana Haba'ah B'Yerushalayim- Next Year in Jerusalem......or anywhere else you wish to be!