People connecting, communicating and creating are the three things that are the foundation of what my work is all about. Today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic the above have become even more critical and challenging, as we all know, with “stay at home”/ “sheltering in place” mandates throughout our country and the world. AND now, the upcoming holidays of Passover and Easter, usually celebrated with family and friends, is upon us.
Fortunately in today’s world of technology we have countless opportunities for virtual connecting through various based web programs. More than likely in recent days/weeks you’ve heard about Zoom Video Conferencing service, a program I’ve been using for several years. And, as many of you know, I’ve been encouraging others to use it to connect with family members and friends during holidays and other celebratory (as well as sad) occasions.
Thus, when I heard that cousins of mine were doing a virtual First Seder**, Wednesday evening, April 8th, using Zoom, I asked my cousin Dena Lake, the hostess, if I could interview her. She graciously agreed. You can hear how she and my cousin Ed decided on doing the Seder in in this way by tapping/clicking on https://youtu.be/kam5YAW0Sj0 or on the image above.
Briefly, in our interview, as you’ll hear in the video, Dena shared that she and Ed have been hosting Seders with 12 to 28 people for over 45 years and that they loved it. With “sheltering in place” due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), she knew that they would not be able to do that this year.
Dena sent out an email to their guest list, writing that somehow they would do it virtually this year. Serendipitously, shortly thereafter, their Rabbi sent out a notice that he was going to do a Zoom workshop on how to do a Seder on Zoom.
She said that a good portion of the Rabbi’s presentation was reassuring them of what was important in these extraordinary times, not to be concerned with being unable to manage some of the usual Passover preparations during normal times. “Do the best you can”.
He said that the only two things needed for the Seder are matzo and wine. He then shared slides that showed the 14 steps of the Seder and what they mean. Click here to see the list and how participant parts were assigned
Dena, said that before they start the Seder they will go around and each guest will share what’s been going on with them. The most important part of this time on Zoom is their connecting and being together.
Traditionally the ceremony, follows descriptions and prayers in a Haggadah, with “tastings” of items (with their meanings discussed) on the Seder plate. See the 14 steps below. Then there is ordinarily a festive dinner, followed by prayers after dinner.. For this Seder on Zoom individuals may follow, if they wish, Haggadahs they may have at home.
Dena also sent out a PDF download to an interesting Haggadah that thoroughly and easily explains the holiday, history and all the parts of the service. Even if you are not Jewish you might find it interesting.
You can get the free download by clicking/tapping on the cover image, or go to https://www.jewbelong.com/holidays/passover/
You’ll find when you are on the site that Jewbelong will doing a free Virtual Seder on Thursday night, April 9th at 7:00 PM. There is a no charge registration link on the site if you wish to attend.
In the video Dena mentions a “super-easy guide” to using Zoom. I don’t have permission to share that here. If you need help with Using Zoom see my post (in the process of being updated) Use the Internet to Easily Talk to Friends, Family, Business Associates.
The 14 parts of the Service as listed by the Rabbi. Where I have “Designated Person” the names of the individuals were included in what was emailed to the guests.Tap/click on the image or on this link to see it enlarged.
** The Seder is a ceremonial dinner that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and includes the reading of the Haggadah and the eating of symbolic foods. It is generally held on the first night of Passover by Reform Jews and Jews in Israel and on both the first and second nights by Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside of Israel.