Just like the prophet, we too can uphold Passover traditions while sheltering in place.
I think I’m getting a bit loopy as I shelter in place. This week I realized that the prophet Elijah is the GOAT social distancer.
(Here’s a bit of youth slang for you to annoy your homeschooled kids with today: “GOAT” is an acronym meaning “Greatest Of All Time.” Not an actual goat. Although the real Elijah probably knew some great goats in his time, too.)
Anyway, think about it. Every year at Passover, we invite Elijah into our homes. And every year he stays safely away. Instead of potentially serving as a vector for a contaminant that could have spread across the entire global Jewish community, he shelters in place and sends his blessings to us virtually instead.
This year, sadly, we are all Elijahs. When the government issues its guidelines for the kinds of social gatherings we should be avoiding to curb the spread of COVID-19, it might as well be flying a giant banner that reads, “NO PASSOVER SEDERS.”
The timing is terrible — cases are exploding just as we gear up for what’s supposed to be a festive holiday, a time when we can sit around a table with family and friends and enjoy a nice, leisurely, lovingly cooked meal. But for our own health and safety, we can’t share our seders this year.
So now, instead of commemorating the Jews’ exodus from slavery, we must pray for an eventual exodus from our own homes. Clearly, this night is indeed different from all other nights.
We must try, as much as we can, to keep our hopes up during these uncertain times.
Check out this issue and our website, TheJewishNews.com, for information on local “virtual seders.” And you should consider hosting one yourself with your own loved ones. Rituals still matter in dark times; they can still bring us comfort and purpose.
Our work at the JN is another kind of ritual, one that we hope can survive the current crisis. For the moment, you may see our print issues shrink as we face reduced advertiser support during the economic downturn. But we are still here. And we’re also committed to serving as a community resource, which is why we’re taking initiatives like making our e-edition free and available to all for the next several weeks.
As always, let me know how else we can help during this time: firstname.lastname@example.org. This Passover, be like Elijah — be safe and stay home. And I promise: If you invite me to your virtual seder, I will bring the tastiest virtual matzah balls you’ve (n)ever eaten.