Over the past few days I’ve started sharing a daily thought on my personal Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/benjy.myers) under the hashtag #CoronaSeder.
Below are the recent posts.
Thanks for taking the time to create the site. I hope it will be useful for everyone far and wide.
This year, many families will be without the guests they originally invited; friends and family who had planned to come but are now unable to do so.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗼𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗘𝗺𝗽𝘁𝘆 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗶𝗿
The idea of leaving an empty chair at the Seder is not a new one. One such call from 1965 can be found in the first comment below.
This year, leave an
empty chair, but not an empty place. Where a guest would be sitting, have a
place card, a photo, some physical reminder of who’s missing (try not to make
it too morbid).
Better yet, ask your guests to send you some questions for discussion, some insights, a dvar Torah to share or some other means by which they can still participate in your Seder, even if they’re not there physically with you.
Working from home, speaking with colleagues over the computer rather than getting up and speaking face to face, means that I’ve spent more time sitting than usual.
𝗔𝗺 𝗜 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 𝗮 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲?
Of course. The Seder can be a long evening where we sit and talk for many an hour. Make sure that just as you would at work, you get up and stretch.
For example, walk around the table reliving the exodus from Egypt; have frog-jumping competitions; during Dayeinu, simply get up and dance! Just keep moving.
The Jewish people have been doing it for centuries and there’s no reason to stop now.
Today I was supposed to be in the UK together with much of the extended family celebrating my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately plans changed, and so we made a cake (not me, obviously) and sent a video instead.
𝗦𝗼 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗣𝗲𝘀𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗿?
Many families will not be able to be together, with parents and grandparents separated by an unseen virus.
Instead, send a video of the children singing their favourite songs, send a personalised card in lieu of finding the Afikoman, or if possible, have a live-streamed mock Seder before Yom Tov or even on Chol Hamoed together with the whole family.
This one comes to you following a special request from my wife: Dust is not chametz!
Also, and more importantly, there may be people in your community who are home alone, but don’t necessarily have the ability to prepare for Pesach, including the shopping, cleaning, kashering, schlepping, cooking and so on.
So go ahead, have a look around and see if anyone needs your help. Do what you can for those around you, making sure that you are adhering at all times to the best medical advice and official guidelines.
The story of the five rabbis who sat down for the Seder can be understood, with a pinch of midrashic license, as a group who went into self-isolation, thereby paving the way for us to do the same.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗜 𝗱𝗼 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗮?
Think about four other people with whom you’d like to go into quarantine (excluding family). At the Seder, compare and discuss your list with that of the other people at the table.
Why is this year different from all other years? For on all other years we would have a big Seder, lots of people from different backgrounds and ages. This year we will be in much smaller family groups, and some people will be in quarantine or self-isolation.
𝗦𝗼 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘄𝗲 𝗱𝗼?
Prepare questions in advance to send to friends and relatives and ask them Pesach related questions. It can about the Haggada, about their favourite Seder from years past, about their personal exodus or salvation from dire straits to personal and familial freedom.
Send them the questions ahead of Pesach and ask them to discuss the questions at their own Seder. After Yom Tov, get in touch ask for the answers!
Does you Seder seem to last forever? Do you have trouble remembering which stage you’re at?
Create your very own Seder Clock! Click on this link to download a clock template and follow the instructions there.
Children are at home and looking for an arts & crafts afternoon? Need to get things done for Pesach at the same? Here’s an idea that I’ll be presenting tomorrow during a Zoom call to current Straus-Amiel students and shlichim on ideas for a innovative Seder even with Corona all around us:
Think of a family slogan for Pesach.
Now, take a plain white hat or white t-shirt and write the slogan on the hat/shirt. Each child can decorate their own hat/shirt as they see fit, and of course everyone wears it to the Seder.
And the adults? They can always decorate their own. Alternatively, have a design competition among the children, or even better, ask them to collaborate on what they think should be on their parents hat/shirt.