This Year, the ‘Zeder.’ Next Year in Jerusalem!

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
This Passover will be like no other that any of us have ever experienced. In past years when we gathered with friends and family at our Seders, we reflected on being in a narrow place, but that often was meant figuratively —for our inner lives, say, or for injustices in the outer world. This year, all of us are in the same narrow place. To protect ourselves and each other from a dangerous virus that has spread worldwide, we must stay in our homes for all but essential tasks. We must avoid in-person gatherings and stay at least six feet away from others on those rare times when we leave the house.

Those strictures will make celebrating Passover uniquely challenging. It is a celebration with layers of meaning that are best explored when we sit together around the Seder table to hear the exodus story and collectively work through fresh answers to old questions. We welcome others who are hungry to join us. We set an extra place for Elijah. Sheltering in place seems to contradict Passover to its very core.

Yet the necessities of the moment are opening our minds to new ideas, for celebrating Passover and for taking part in the whole experience of Jewish life. That opening, in itself, is a way of winning our freedom. Finding our path out of this narrow space is bringing out the best in us, as individuals, Jewish organizations, and as a community. Together, we are tapping wellsprings of creativity to bring virtual services and opportunities to Jewish Puget Sound— improvising, collaborating, learning, and adjusting as we go along to help those in need, keep our community connected, and to nurture the relationships that lie at its heart.

That goes for our Passover celebrations. A Zoom gathering would not be anyone’s first choice for participating in a Seder, which, among all our Jewish holiday observances, is a uniquely sensory experience. Yet, inventive communal professionals and community members are determined to make it work—scheduling virtual Seders and Passover learning opportunities, offering Seder meals to go, providing helpful guidance for people planning a home Seder for the first time, and more. Take a look at our Passover resources page to find out more; we’ll keep it updated as we learn about Passover resources and virtual gatherings that are in the works.

The journey to freedom on which we reflect at every Passover is not a one-off from a long-ago time. It is an ongoing story of deliverance, as relevant for us today as it was for our ancestors escaping slavery millennia ago. Each day, when I think I’ve been in front of a screen for a bit too long, I am refueled by stories I hear across our community on how quickly and effectively all of us are pulling together to confront the pandemic crisis. In doing so, we are not only protecting our collective health and serving our community’s needs—we are charting new paths to freedom.

Stay healthy, be well, and together, we will get through this. This year, the Zoom Seder—the Zeder. Next year in Jerusalem!

Chag Pesach Sameach!