It is without a doubt that the corona-virus has changed everything about the way we live our lives.
That includes religious practice.
Wednesday and Thursday were the first and second nights of Passover, respectively. For many Jews, a normal Passover Seder consists of a large group of family and friends coming together to eat, drink and tell the story of Passover. But, with the influence of corona-virus, the traditional Seder had to be amended.
My family, many others, used Zoom to digitally get together with our loved ones.
I think the best perspective on this new way of conducting Seders can be best summed up by a statement my father made Wednesday night. He said that his father, my late grandfather (who died 30 years ago), would not at all have approved.
My grandfather (Z”l) was in a certain sense, a man of tradition. He believed in and lived by the Judaism that he loved. That love of Judaism and our traditions were passed to his children and later, his grandchildren. It is one of the reasons that I am still a Jew in every sense of the word and proud of my faith.
While my grandfather would not have approved of Wednesday and Thursday nights, I know that it was the right thing. Not being in the same room with our family and friends was weird. But if I had a choice of holding a Zoom Seder or having none at all, I would choose a Zoom Seder.
If this was an ordinary April, the next two nights would be about food, family and tradition. But not in the age of coronavirus. While the next two nights will be about food, family, and tradition, it will not be same.
If there is one thing I have learned during the plague that is Covid-19, it is to appreciate the simple things. I appreciate the fact that I am still healthy. I appreciate the food on my plate and the clothing on my back. I appreciate the roof over my head and that I am still employed. I appreciate that the technology exists that allows me to stay in touch with those I love and do my job.
One of the songs that is sung during the Seder is is called Dayenu. In a nutshell, it lists what G-d did for the Israelite slaves. If G-d had only bestowed one gift, it would have been enough (Dayenu). But my heavenly parent bestowed 15 gifts, sending the Israelites on a path to freedom.
For all of my blessings during this difficult time, I say Dayenu. If there is one thing this time has taught me, it is to count my blessings, for which I have many.
From my family to yours, I wish those who celebrate a Happy Passover and may we all get through this plague known as coronavirus in one piece.
It is without a doubt that the coronavirus has upended our lives as we know them to be.
This includes religious practice. With the holidays of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan coming quickly, the faithful must find new ways to celebrate their respective holidays while following the recommendations of the experts.
Across the country and across the world, religious leaders are turning to video conferencing services programs such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other programs to hold services.
What is frustrating to me is that there are some who are are willingly putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones in danger by acting as life is normal. Last month, a Fundamentalist church in Indiana held services in spite of warnings against holding large gatherings. In Israel and in my hometown of New York City, some ultra-Orthodox Jews ignored the edicts by the government to prevent coronavirus from spreading further than it already has spread.
Anyone who has read this blog knows of my Jewish faith. Though I am not as religious as others, my faith is important to me. Passover starts Wednesday night. My family, like many other families, are being creative when it comes to the Seder and the traditional ways of telling the Passover story.
If the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is that it takes a little flexibility to get through tough times. To say that we are going through tough times is an understatement. That requires us to understand that we cannot live as we did a month ago. Those who willingly ignore that fact endanger us all.
Tomorrow night begins the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The holiday is celebrated by the Seder, which is both a meal and a retelling of how our ancestors went from being slaves in Egypt to being free to live and openly practice their faith.
For me, Passover is more than just an elaborate meal with a story mixed in, which is then followed by eating a modified version of the Atkins diet for a week. While I am very proud and open about my faith and the history of my people, I am far from being labeled as ba’al teshuva (someone who makes a choice to live a more religiously observant life). Passover is about my statement to not only the wider world, but to my creator that I am who I am when it comes to my faith and I proud of that faith.
It is also the story of overcoming what seems like impossible odds and remembering the injustices done to us. Human history is full of tales of injustice, hatred, destruction and murder. By remembering the injustices done to us, we are able to be more compassionate and understanding to those experiencing the same injustice and hatred today.