This is an unusual year in which to be celebrating Passover. I thought we should add an additional question (okay, two questions) to acknowledge this.
On all other nights we may gather with friends and family around our table. Why this year do we not?
On all other nights we may increase joy by sharing holidays with our community. What does it mean for us that this year we cannot?
The answers to the first four traditional questions we will answer during the rest of the Seder, but let's answer these questions here. This year we do not gather with friends and family because we are safer at home, and because Judaism puts regard for life above all us. Staying safer in each of our homes is how we put that into action, how we keep ourselves and others in our community safe.
Though this Seder is not the one we originally planned, having Passover with just the four of us does not make this year's Seder any "less." In preparing for our Plan B Seder at home, I thought about my Great Auntie Pearl, one of Great-Grandma's sisters who I remember. She grew up during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Many people who lived through that time developed frugal habits out of necessity - they simply had to to live. Even decades later though, Auntie Pearl was very careful to not waste any amount of food, and she treated milk like it was gold; it had a lasting impact.
I assume it was challenging in those years for their family to even put a good meal on the table for Pesach. We are blessed to still be able to have plentiful meat for our Seder and all the other days. Yet this time may be hard for us in its own ways because humans are social creatures, and our ability to be social with each other has changed sharply.
I think though, of Auntie Pearl and our other family members who came before us, and of how they also would have held Seders in these hard years as best they could and with as much joy as they could. It brings me comfort to know that we aren't the only ones to ever have a Seder in challenging times, and also to know that it won't always be like this! After the Great Depression, our now-older relatives also got to celebrate in times of plenty again, as will we.
I hope that this reflection will help us celebrate the holiday this year feeling connected to generations of Jews and drawing strength from them.
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