I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say the coronavirus is a major downer, to say the least. It has changed everything about the way we live.
Anything we can do to cheer up and help goes a long way.
On Saturday, Saturday Night Seder aired on YouTube.
Featuring a number of Jewish (and non-Jewish) celebrities, the story of Passover was told in a way that I have never seen.
It was funny, it was charming and educational without hitting the audience over the head.
If there was one part that was the shit, it was Idina Menzel singing Ma Nishtana (starts at 23:53). I’ve sung that song many time over the years, but this is the first time I’ve gotten a chill down my back.
It was also an opportunity to make a worthy donation to the front line workers via the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
If the Israelites were able to survive slavery and forty years in the desert, we can survive coronavirus. We just need a little light in our lives and Saturday Night Seder provided that.
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.
There is something about a holiday special that is done right. If it is well balanced with tradition and family without being too schmaltzy, it can last years, if not generations.
Back in 1995, A Rugrats Passover aired. It tells the Passover story as only the Rugrats can. In a nutshell, the children are told the story by Grandpa Boris. As the tale begins, Tommy imagines himself as Moses and Angelica as Pharaoh.
When it initially aired, I was not the target audience. But looking back, I can see why this episode is as beloved as it is. It is charming, funny and talks directly to the children watching as only a program of this nature can.
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.
A week ago yesterday, which was Easter Sunday, bombs went off across Sri Lanka. When all was said and done, hundreds were dead and many more were injured.
Today, there was a shooting closer to home. In San Diego, one person was killed and three were injured in a shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. Today is also the last day of Passover.
I hate to ask what is a simplistic question, but can’t we all get along? Is it so impossible to just live and let live? Why must we choose who is worthy and who is unworthy based on factors such as race, religion, sexuality, etc? At the end of the day, we are all human beings. We breathe the same way, we eat the same way and we use the bathroom in the same way.
For once, I wish I could watch the news without hearing that someone has been attacked or killed because of who they are.
May the memory of the person killed be a blessing to those who loved them.
Around the world, millions of Jews will sit down to the Seder and remember the exodus from Egypt.
Though the story is about one specific group of people are led to freedom, it speaks to everyone who has felt put down, pushed aside or made to feel like the other.
For me personally, this holiday coincides with the fact that there will soon be a change in my career. I will be walking through the desert of unemployment, with my creator walking silently by my side and praying for the professional manna that will support me until I am again employed.
I have to believe that something good is coming. G-d is not sending me to the proverbial professional desert for kicks and giggles. I believe that I will reach the professional promised land.
In this time of professional uncertainty and being that Passover starts tonight, I can’t think of a better song that “When You Believe” from the Prince of Egypt.
To have said that you survived The Holocaust took more that luck. Fate and perhaps split second decisions had a hand in deciding if one would become a martyr or a survivor.
Georgia Hunter’s 2017 memoir, We Were The Lucy Ones, tells the story of her mother’s family survived The Holocaust. She starts the story in 1939 as the Kurc family from Radom, Poland is celebrating the holiday of Passover. They are all together with the exception one of the sons who is living and working in Paris. Then the war starts and the family is torn apart. At each turn, it looks like they will join their slain brethren. But somehow, the family survives forges a new life far away from the hatred and terror that nearly took their lives.
This book is nothing short of wondrous. I could not put it down. There were points in the novel where I held my breath, praying that each individual family member would find a way to survive not just that moment or that day, but the war. It is a breathtaking story of survival, love and perseverance against all odds.
Passover, like any holiday is about family and tradition.
When I think of Passover, I think of my childhood and my grandparents. When I was growing up, all but one of my grandparents lived nearby. They were an integral part of my childhood, and I am forever grateful for the time I had with them. Looking back, I don’t think I would have the pride in my faith and my history, had my grandparents not been vocal in ensuring that their grandchildren were raised Jewish.
All four of my grandparents are gone, they passed away years ago. While I am not religious, Passover is one of those holidays that I celebrate. One of the reasons I celebrate is the memories I have of my grandparents and the love of Judaism they passed down to me.
It’s no secret to anyone who has kept their eye on Washington DC since the inauguration in January that it has not been a smooth transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Not that the first few months of any Presidential administration is smooth, but this transition seems to be rougher than the previous administrations.
The latest gaffe coming out of The White House is Sean Spicer’s comments comparing the gassing of innocent Syrian civilians to the murders of Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II.
Sean Spicer should be fired. Not only are his comments rude, insensitive, historically inaccurate, but they were also uttered on Passover, of all days.
While both acts are reprehensible and should force anyone with a heart and a brain to reel in shame, horror and disgust, the fact that Mr. Spicer downplayed the Holocaust and fact that innocent civilians were killed by chemical weapons is more than enough of a reason that he should be fired.
Next time (if there is a next time), I suggest that whomever writes his speeches does their homework before coming to the podium.