Passover has never been a holiday for social distancing. On the first Passover in Egypt, families were commanded to crowd into the small slave huts to share the Paschal lamb. When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, Passover was a pilgrimage festival—every male Israelite was commanded to appear before God at the Temple.
The Rabbis wondered: How was it possible for every male Israelite to fit in Jerusalem, let alone the precincts of the Temple? Simple—it was a miracle. "The people stood pressed tightly together; yet when they bowed down, they each had plenty of room" (Pirkei Avot 5:5).
This year we are calling for an opposite miracle. We all have plenty of personal space right now. What we lack is the energy of the crowd, the exhilaration and inspiration of sharing space and experiences with others.
This year at Passover, may God transform our isolation into connection. By video conference, phone, or even in our thoughts, we will build the best bridges we can. God, transform absence into presence. Collapse the distance between us.
And just as at Passover in days of old, may we be crowded together in Your presence.
May your Passover be healthy and sweet.
*IT'S NOT TOO LATE*
Kol Dorot Community Online Seder
Second Night of Passover | Thursday, April 9th at 6:00pm | REGISTER NOW
*Announcement* We have arranged for the seder to include real-time captioning, to be more accessible to people with hearing loss and many others!
Nearly 100 households (almost 250 people) are already signed up for our Kol Dorot Online Seder on Thursday. Join us!
IF YOU HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED: You should have received an email with instructions and login information. (If you have not received the instructions email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Torah for Today
Cantor Sarah Silverberg
B'chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et atzmo k'ilu hu yatzah mimitzrayim. "In every generation a person should try to envision themselves as if they personally experienced the exodus from Egypt."
I’ve always found this directive from our Passover Haggadah difficult to accomplish. Even drawing upon my deepest empathy and imagination, I find it difficult to envision what it would have been like to experience the exodus from Egypt. What would it be like to be quickly leave my home and take only what is most precious to me? What would it have been like to experience the plagues in Egypt? How would I have felt trusting Moses as my leader? I have always struggled to find a way into this part of our Jewish history, unable to completely answer all of these questions.
This year - in the midst of a global pandemic - I have a new appreciation for recounting of the Passover story. At the very least, I can empathize with the Israelites having felt many of the same feelings over the past several weeks. I can better understand the fear of not knowing what is going to happen next while keeping hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I can understand the anxiety of a constantly changing world while being comforted by the constant of my family around me. This year, I can better envision myself as if I had experienced the exodus from Egypt.
Elana Arian and Noah Aronson composed a setting of this Haggadah text in 2016. I love the melody and have found it stuck in my head in these last few days leading up to Passover. The melody strikes the perfect balance between comforting with a bit of yearning as well. My favorite part it is towards the end of the video when the familiar melody for “Dayeinu” is woven into the song. It’s a perfect melding of text and music. To listen to this beautiful music, click here.
Especially this year, there are so many free resources available to add richness to the Seder and the whole week of Passover. Here are our top recommendations:
1) Passover Resources from the URJ A huge rundown of online resources from the Union for Reform Judaism. Worth browsing, especially if you are putting together a seder.
2) Haggadah Options Due to the current crisis, several publishers have made their copyrighted haggadahs available for free online. If you use one of these, we recommend also ordering a hard copy from an independent bookstore.
a. Sharing the Journey (CCAR Press) This is the haggadah used for the last several years at the Temple Beth Or Community Seder. Offered in full and abbreviated online versions.
b. A Night To Remember (The Haggadah Store) This is a wonderful haggadah for groups of all ages and sizes, offered here in a PDF version. The publisher has also prepared a wonderful Seder Planner, to choose parts of the haggadah that best fit your particular seder. c. The PJ Library Haggadah Fill out a quick form to receive a PDF version of this simple, beautiful haggadah. Great for all ages.
3) Passover Catering (Food!) When we can't travel to our usual seders, the most urgent question may be: Who's going to cook for Passover? Don't worry: We have options. The North Jersey Board of Rabbis has compiled a list of Passover Catering Options.
In Case You Missed It
Passover Preparation Sessions:
1) Seder Basics Refresher with Rabbi Noah
2) Guide to Seder Resources Online with Rabbi David — For Rabbi David's Seder Resources Sheet,click here.
3) Passover Seder Songs with Cantor Sarah
4) Making an Online Seder with Rabbi Noah