Why I’m Looking Forward To Another Seder In Quarantine
By Dave Cowen
At the end of every Seder, we say, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Once again, this year, many of us will say, “Next year in person!”
While many people have received their vaccines and are able to attend Seders in person this year, many more still aren’t vaccinated and will have to conduct another year of Seders alone or virtually.
I, myself, am one of those people.
This could be considered a downer, but I prefer to look at the bright side.
As the Jewish diaspora has proven, we are a people that not only can make do in less than ideal circumstances, but we can thrive in them.
Last year, I was estranged from my Los Angeles family that I had celebrated Passover with for the last 10 years. Instead, thanks to technology, I was able to connect with my family of origin in New York State for the first time for a Seder since my youth.
This year, on the second night, I plan to connect with friends all around the country, who I wouldn’t have even thought to have had a Seder with if it weren’t for the pandemic.
I’ve also heard from one person that she virtually connected to Jerusalem itself last year. So, in effect, because of the pandemic, more Jews, if they want, can celebrate “This year in Jerusalem!”
It is undoubtedly sad for those of us who have lost family members and friends to COVID, who will not be at the table this year. We can make space for them by reflecting on the idea that many of the Jews who escaped from Egypt did not get into the promised land, including Moses. And yet, without their efforts and sacrifice, the rest of the Jews wouldn’t have made it. Sometimes overcoming suffering has enormous costs and casualties, which the survivors must mourn, honor, and celebrate.
However, we can also think of how many extra people will be at the table because of COVID; because of how we have normalized the option to gather virtually. Maybe Passover will be forever changed for the better.
This fun, new option could make Seders forever hybrids of in-person and virtual. Seders where family and friends gather in-person, and Zoom in others to ask the Four Questions or tell the Maggid. Perhaps we will always leave room at our tables, not just for Elijah, but for iPads and laptops to welcome guests from across the country or the world.
Next year I hope to be at a table with family and friends, but I also hope to include others that can’t be there in a way that before all of this we never would have thought possible.