Passover Seder…social distancing style

Sarah Brager, editor, photographer

The time of year has come to hide our bread in the freezer and crack open the endless boxes of matzah – that’s right, it’s Passover season. However, with the coronavirus at it’s height, Jewish families around the world are having to alter some of their traditions to meet social distancing guidelines. Passover is typically a very social holiday, so celebrations this year may not be ideal, but people are certainly making the most of the season.

Passover, or Pesach, is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays, and it commemorates the liberation of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Seder is definitely the highlight of Passover; friends and family gather together to recall the story of Egypt, share delicious food, and play games. Many families still held a Seder this year, as it is tradition in our culture, just minus the extra guests. Some Rabbis even held virtual Seders to make up for social distancing regulations.

In my house, the Passover Seder was quite small this year – just the four of us at our kitchen table. Normally, we invite guests or attend a Seder at our synagogue. We also have this tradition where we pack a picnic Seder and enjoy it in Zilker Park with our loved ones. Even though it felt strange to not be able to celebrate as we normally would, our Seder was still very fun and slightly dysfunctional in its own special way (as it is every year).

It wasn’t until the day of our Seder that I realized how coronavirus has truly impacted our holiday. My family and I face-timed my grandma while we were cooking, and when she answered she was wearing a large mask and what looked like a trash bag around her body. She was just taking extra precaution because she was at her sister-in-law’s house, but it was still disheartening to see. They had to sit at separate tables during their Seder to ensure they were six feet apart. I miss the time where we could come together without worry of getting sick, a time where I could have been at that Seder with them.

Not only is coronavirus preventing loved ones from seeing one another, but it’s also making it harder for people to buy food. My family was fortunate enough to find everything we needed, but I’m sure there are families who did not have access to specific foods for their Seder, or were too scared to even go out and shop. Many communities are saying prayers for those affected by coronavirus, including my family at last night’s Seder.

While we are unable to do all of our traditions this year because of coronavirus, it’s important to remember what we are grateful for during the holidays. I’m sure those who are celebrating Easter this weekend are facing the same struggle, so I am reminding you to make the most of it. Maybe hold a Zoom meeting with your extended family over dinner – be creative! Most importantly, stay safe and please respect social distancing so we can return to our normal traditions sooner.