By Asa Saidman
The Passover Seder, no matter the year, is based around one central question: “mah nishtanah” which roughly translates to “what makes tonight different than any other night”. This year, Passover 2020, or Pesach 5780, according to the Jewish calendar, is simply unlike any Passover us as American Jews have ever experienced.
Usually on Passover, Jewish families throughout the country welcome their extended family and friends into their homes, they sit around the table as the leader of the Seder tells the story of Passover while the aroma of matzah ball chicken soup, brisket and all the other Passover delicacies waft through the air. Kids run around the Seder table, laughing as they search for the “Afikoman”, a half piece of matzah that is hidden and when it is found it signals the start of desert. The Passover Seder is a celebration, a moment to reflect on what we, as Jews, have overcome throughout our long history.
This year it is different. Yes, the aroma of my mom’s brisket and chicken soup can be smelled throughout the house, but the laughter, the celebration, the constant ringing of our doorbell to let another guest into our house is lacking.
Throughout history, Jews have always had to prove their resiliency. The affect that COVID-19 has had on our celebration of Passover, was just another way for us to prove that we are resilient to anything.
Enter, video conferencing…
Though the faces may have been pixelated and the voices were buffering, the celebration of Passover via video conferencing brought a sense of peace, happiness and hope that has not been felt in weeks. Our “Virtual Passover Seder” allowed my family to connect coast-to-coast and gave my grandparents, who are in their early 90’s, the opportunity to celebrate with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Even though we could not pass the food from screen-to-screen, we were still able to pass stories, songs, smiles, laughter and a memory that we will always cherish.
The Passover Seder ends with the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem”. No, that does not mean that we will literally be celebrating Passover in Jerusalem, but what it is referring to is a sense of freedom, an opportunity that we can celebrate anywhere throughout the world. This has a direct correlation to the affect COVID-19 has had on everyone. So, whether you are Jewish or not, let’s all make a goal to celebrate “next year in Jerusalem”.
I wish you all a happy and healthy Passover, “Chag Pesach sameach”.