“How is this night different from all other nights?”
As Jewish people around the world prepare for yet another Passover, many still remain isolated due to the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic stirred dread and forced people to stay home last year. It felt pretty biblical and ironic that we were hit by a plague. And although we have had a whole year behind us and more understanding of the virus and as many get vaccinated, things are slowly starting look upwards but still remain different. The reality of our “New World”.
Families who had traditionally looked forward to large gatherings with friends and extended family, now expect smaller gatherings, maybe just with immediate family members. Many will look around the table yet again and think of loved ones who are not there. Thanks to technology, last year many celebrated via Zoom, coining the word Zeders! And perhaps will again this year.
As a modern interfaith family, my own family’s seders over the years have been less about reading through long haggadahs and more about “tradition” and opening our home to friends while incorporating our own personal values. We typically have some non Jewish friends attend and share a beautiful and meaningful night with loved ones. We gather, we laugh, we say prayers, we fuss over the kids as they hunt for the afikomen and we drink a lot of wine! Last year definitely felt different. I don’t believe we even had a traditional seder plate (my MIL typically prepares that). It was just the 4 of us at the table, all huddled over the tiny iPad screen as we zoomed in with the grandparents. There were no other friends or second set of grandparents present. However, even though we were not physically be able to break bread in the same way and go around the table passing salt, it became even more important to remember the true meaning of “Gathering” and the significance of the holiday itself.
I was recently listening to a pod cast by Brené Brown with Priya Parker, who is a master facilitator, strategic advisor, and the author of The Art of Gathering: Priya talks in depth about “why connection requires intention, and the often-invisible structures inside our most meaningful gatherings.” Listening to the podcast really got me thinking about what truly is the essence and meaning behind hosting a gathering. She describes a gathering of anything more than 3 or more people.
The Seder, a meal with symbolic ingredients that recount the exodus story, has always invited Jews to seek fresh interpretations. We partake in foods such as bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery and vegetables dipped in salt water representing the tears of the enslaved Israelites. And we ask ourselves how the Passover story applies to our own lives in the modern world. It is a beautiful holiday and not just about the Jews escaping Egypt and going Israel, but a reminder about our world today and about being aware of other people and the struggles that they have, and how fortunate we are. It is about being mindful and thinking about so many people who have to escape horrible injustice and fight circumstances and make sacrifices just to make a better life for their children.
So as we all sit down and gather this weekend, I invite you to think about this meal in a more “meaningful way” beyond the tablescape and the china, but more importantly about the true beauty of the people in our lives and to celebrate the time spent with them! And to remember that life is precious and fragile and to think about our own blessings while we feast and to not forget the hundreds of thousands even within our own state that are homeless and hungry.
Next year may all be free! Chag Sameach!
La Dee Da Art Studio is offering many Grab n’ Go Craft Kits for Passover that focus on Jewish values & traditions. Check out our current selection of items in our SHOP to be enjoyed both by kids and adults. We also have camp next week for those that may need help with childcare.