by Rabbi David Rosenberg
Passover is a holiday that looks out: The account of the liberation from slavery in Egypt has inspired the world for centuries. And Passover looks in: The holiday’s most famous observance is the Seder, a meal traditionally observed by families at home. Both themes—looking out and looking in—are expressed in an invitation that serves as a formal opening to the Passover Seder: “All who are hungry may come and eat.” I am in my home, yet I care about the needs of those beyond.
This year, Passover—like so many other aspects of human life—must shelter in place. Families who had looked forward to large gatherings with friends now expect small gatherings of immediate family members. Many will look around the table and think of loved ones who are not there. Some will be attending Seders for a party of one. How different this Passover is from other Passovers! The joy of the holiday has been reduced by the need to keep safe during a pandemic.
Celebrating Passover during this unprecedented time can serve to remind us that many people do not experience joy and that many are familiar with social isolation regardless of calls for staying at home. This Passover season can inspire us to reach out with a caring phone call or to connect with others in new ways that smartphones and laptops make possible.
May we, our loved ones, our colleagues, our friends, and all we know experience good health at this difficult time. And may we continue to share joy and model resiliency remotely until we can safely come together again.