Sundown marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesach. It’s a time when families gather for a Seder meal and the annual recounting of the Jews’ deliverance from slavery to freedom. But this year is different from all other years. Social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic means most homes will not be physically open to welcome family and friends.
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Still, plenty of families will celebrate virtually.
Connecticut Public Radio’s Diane Orson spoke with Rabbi Brian Immerman of Congregation Mishkan Israel, where she’s a member. Here are some highlights of their conversation.
On New Passover Rituals
We both cannot and should not gather. We’re guided by one of our primary Jewish values -- “Pikuach Nefesh: to save a life,” which says we should go out of our way and do as much as we can to possibly help and save ourselves and everyone around us.
On Digital Passover 2020
Nothing can replace an in-person interaction. But we’re going to still try to connect. We created a webpage where we tried to compile various resources with tips on running a virtual Seder. I linked to a few different options for people to view a Haggadah, the special book that contains the words of the Seder. Fortunately, this being 2020, there are many options online.
On Celebrating Passover At This Unprecedented Moment
Passover is about liberating both the ancient Israelites but also ourselves. And that rings so true this year as we are feeling isolated, bound to being at home and bound to being separated from others.
One other theme is what it felt for like the Israelites to be standing at the sea before they crossed through. Before them was an unknown vast expanse, and they didn’t know how they were going to get through. We learn that we just started wading into the water, and we did get through it together. And I pray for our community -- for our world -- that we have the faith, the courage, the strength to walk through that sea. And very soon we’ll be standing on the other side singing songs of freedom.