How to Celebrate Passover During a Pandemic
In the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, the realization that Passover season is upon us feels foreign, kind of like a vague memory of a former life. But this food, family, and friend-filled holiday is intrinsic to the fabric of Jewish life. Even if celebrating it doesn’t look the same right now, we can still mark the occasion! Here are some creative ways to remember the exodus during an actual plague:
Get creative in the kitchen.
While we’re all stuck inside, why not upgrade your Passover cooking? Add tart, dried cherries to your charoset. Make a delicious, garlic-infused horseradish aioli. Show appreciation for all the ethnicities represented in your household by fusing them into your Passover cuisine. What if Passover was Mexican, Chinese, or German this year?
Get a video chat account.
Invite all your family and friends over – virtually. Though we can’t all get together in person, a virtual Passover has a plus side: you can celebrate with long-distance friends or family with whom you wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy the seder – not to mention that you can wear pajama bottoms to the meal and eat more brisket!
Make your own Haggadah.
Hebrew, English, “Hebrish” – whatever your preference, piece together a custom-made Haggadah! Telling the story doesn’t have to be as long and arduous as our journey into the wilderness was. Get creative! Empower everyone in their own roles and divide them up. Maybe you can add a fifth question, write your own “Dayenu” remix, or give everyone – at home or virtually – a role to play (which could even include costumes and scripts!).
Have something in common.
Stay connected with family and friends by sharing a common ingredient: cook the same recipe, order the same takeout meal, or use the same Haggadah. Everyone could agree to do the same mitzvah (e.g., donate to the same COVID-19 relief fund to help those in need, or have groceries delivered to a neighbor). Whether we can be together or not, we can celebrate in solidarity.
Watch Passover movies.
Let’s be honest, we know that most of you are just watching TV and Netflix while you’re quarantined. The kids are out of school and there are eight nights to fill, so why not take this opportunity to explore the world of Passover cinema. There are plenty of choices: The Prince of Egypt, The Ten Commandments, A Rugrats Passover (a kid favorite!), or the 1979 classic Jesus film, which depicts the most famous Passover seder of all time (read about it here). Make some chocolate-covered matzah, get out the fleece blankets, and enjoy all that extra family time with a Passover movie marathon!
Add a fifth cup.
No, not because times are hard, and we’re not talking about the Cup of Elijah, but because many Jewish people have been adding a fifth cup to the traditional four, as the New York Times says, “… either to note the ultimate ‘redemption,’ the establishment of the State of Israel, or to celebrate Moses’ sister Miriam, and the role of women throughout Jewish history.”1 This year, one idea is to raise a glass to honor the healthcare workers who have sacrificed so much during this time of global crisis.
Observe and remember.
As we remember the original ten plagues, take note of all the ways God has sustained us as a Jewish people in the days since. Think about all the remarkable stories of human endurance and sacrifice – and Messiah’s ultimate sacrifice and victory over sin and death. Ask each guest to tell a story of triumph that has inspired them. From slavery in Egypt to the current pandemic, God has protected us, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this season.
1. Shmuel Rosner, “Keep Your Politics Out of Passover,” The New York Times, April 9, 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/04/09/opinion/keep-your-politics-out-of-passover.html?auth=login-google1tap&login=google1tap.