A pandemic changes everything, and for Mark Meridy, of the non-profit DOROT, it means calling off a beloved tradition.
"This Passover will be different like no other Passover in the past," Meridy said. "Last year, we engaged 700 volunteers to deliver Passover packages to 600 largely isolated home-bound older adults."
Staff members will still deliver food to those most in need this year, but to save lives, that lovely social component by volunteers will have to come over the telephone or virtually.
"What is different is we can't just reach out and touch each other in the experience of the Passover Seder," said Rabbi Darren Levine, of Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue.
Video chat Seders have been given the OK by many rabbis, including Rabbi Levine, who says you can still connect deeply by asking each other how you're feeling and coping -- and he says it's a good time to contemplate where the world is headed.
"Once this time period ends, what do you want your life to be and how are we going to get there together?" he said. "I think it's an important time to reflect where we are in the world and where we are going together."
One Passover tradition is to invite the hungry to the holiday meal, but there's more to that this year.
"I think the hungry are those people who are isolated and feeling a sense of loneliness, and those people are hungry for connection," Rabbi Levine said. "And I think if we do a good job, we can reach out to those folks and include them in our Seders."
And the pandemic also offers a good excuse to not be the perfect host. You may not be able to get every item for your Seder plate, and whatever you can manage is good enough.
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