Passover Celebrations Take Shape Differently To Work Around The Coronavirus
Speaker 1: 00:00 Tonight is not only different from all other nights. It's also different from all other Passovers San Diego's Jewish community and Jews around the world will celebrate this first night of Passover with the traditional Seder dinner. But that dinner and the entire celebration will not be as traditional as usual stay at home orders. And the prohibition against large gatherings will leave many without extended family and friends. This Passover joining me is rabbi Devorah Marcus who leads the congregation at temple Emmanuel and is president of the San Diego rabbinic association. And she's here to tell us how the meaning and celebration of Passover is being affected by the covert 19 pandemic. And rabbi, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. Now there's a sharp irony to the image of families huddled inside their homes tonight and the original story of Passover and the plagues of Egypt. Can you remind us of that? Speaker 1: 00:58 Sure. Yes. The original Passover story tells us that from the Torah tells us that the Israelites were huddled in their homes hoping to avoid the final plague, which was the slang of the firstborn, uh, sons. And, um, so it was a night of great trepidation and fear and uncertainty through the centuries though. What has the celebration of Passover come to mean to the Jewish community? Well, since that first passed over night, Passover has become one of the most treasured holidays in the Jewish community. Most people, um, from the Jewish community identify that Passover's their favorite holiday. And in large part, it's because it's done as a home holiday with our closest friends and family. We're commanded to invite people and guests to come to our homes. We sit together, we read from the Passover Haggadah, which is, um, the name of the story of Passover. And we follow the Seder, which means an ordered meal. Speaker 1: 02:01 So we have certain parts of the story that we tell in a certain order. We were called the Exodus from Egypt. We recall the liberation from slavery. Um, and, uh, we celebrate our freedom and in doing so, remind ourselves that it is our obligation to be advocating for the freedom and dignity of others as well. So it's a night that's filled with story, with memory, with wonderful, amazing food. We have certain foods that we only eat at Passover. Um, and most importantly, all of that is done in the context of being around the table with a large group of family and friends. So, and that probably is not going to be able to happen this year. So what are you hearing from members of your congregation about this FAS over? Well, as you said at the beginning, this is a Passover like no other. So we have asked families to observe what we are calling sacred. Speaker 1: 02:59 Um, we don't like to say social distancing because we feel that that underscores the feeling of loneliness and isolation that people are going through right now. So instead we're calling it sacred distancing and reminding people that the best way to express their love and devotion to each other and humanity is to stay away from each other, um, through the sacred distancing. And so we've asked families as has the entire Jewish community to stay just within their family units in their homes who have, they've already been sheltering in place with and um, to have their Passover Seders but then to invite their family members in through the magic of zoom. So, uh, tonight it's going to be really special because I believe that for most of us, that will be the first time that we've ever had electronic Seders. I've heard they've been called zaders when they're on zoom. Speaker 1: 03:50 Yes. There's all kinds of names that have been coming around including, uh, including zaders. Absolutely. Um, so yeah, people are really embracing it and it's helping alleviate the sense of strangeness around not sitting at the table together. There have been some concerns that the zoom meetings for Passover might be hacked. Is there any precaution that can be taken against that? Yes, we are reminding all families to read all of the latest news articles that have come out with really great information on protecting yourself from zoom bobbing as it's called. Um, and to do that, you need to only put the invitations directly to the people who are being invited and we're asking everyone to make sure it will. I think now it's required that every zoom meeting have a password and for the leader to review zoom practices and be aware that they can kick people out, that they can manage the participants, that they can lock the room once the session has started. Speaker 1: 04:53 So there's a lot of important strategies. Um, and we've been sending information out to our congregants as have other, um, Jewish communal organizations, uh, to make sure that people are safe and don't get interrupted by awful people. Rabbi, this was certainly a Passover that people will remember for years, perhaps all their lives. What would you like them to take away from this special celebration? Well, you know, one of the remarkable things about being a part of a people that has a minimal 3,500 year old culture is that Judaism has always had to go through periods of reinvention, transition, and adjustment. So the first time that they did the Seder, they were slaves and in [inaudible]. And, uh, in the place of narrowness in that, um, ancient Egypt and every time Jews have had to leave a place where we were living cause we were expelled or we were kicked out or we just migrated because of our own free choices. Speaker 1: 05:52 We were always having to make adjustments. And the Seder has evolved over a number of years and solidified. And so this will be our next evolution. This will be the next um, way to um, adapt to the reality in which we're living. We're keeping our rituals, we're keeping everything that we can of our ancient practice. And we are also incorporating new practice this year, which is um, just about as classically Jewish as you can get. I've been speaking with rabbi Devorah, Marcus of San Diego's temple Emmanuel and rabbi. Thank you very much. Happy Passover. Happy Passover to you and happy Easter and any other holidays that you celebrate. We hope that it's a time of health and wholeness for everyone. And we also hope that everyone will keep listening to the good medical advice that is coming out from dr Fowchee and others. And we'll do everything that they can to practice sacred distancing and keep themselves and our community safe.