Let’s commit to keeping our community connected this Pesach.
Let me say something provocative. As wonderful as I am sure all our Seders have been in years past, they have all been flawed. That is really no fault of our own, but the fault of the high expectations of the author(s) of the Haggadah, which start our Seder off with the Ha Lachma Anya or “This Poor Person’s Bread” — the Matza. This ancient Aramaic paragraph that comes right before the iconic Ma Nishtana (Why is this night different from all other nights?) has us declaring that everyone who wants to eat is invited to our Seder.
Now, given how large many Seders are, we could never live up to this statement before now. Especially since we say the Ha Lachma Anya in the comfort of our own homes, where it’s pretty certain no one who really needs food or even a Seder can hear us. Well, due to the terrible Coronavirus pandemic this year, we, in a way, have the opportunity to finally fulfill the goals of Ha Lachma Anya, to make sure that everyone is included in a Seder.
It is, of course, counter-intuitive. This year we should be in the smallest Seders ever, either with our immediate, nuclear families, roommates or on our own. Yet, we are being compelled by social distancing to make Passover a time of connecting with those whom we have neglected in the past – whether that means family, old friends and acquaintances or people outside of our circles who really need our help.
This year especially, the Seder is the call to make sure that everyone has food and a way of making Passover, as well as a way to feel part of the community.
There are many ways to do it for Jews of all different religious persuasions. Perhaps going onto the Federation’s website, Jewishdetroit.org, to find out how to give and ensure everyone, including the homeless, elderly and shut-ins, gets food. It also can mean inviting anyone who wants a Seder to yours digitally via FaceTime, Zoom or another app.
If your religious choice does not allow for technology during the holiday, consider hosting a “pre-Seder Seder.” In my role as executive director at JCRC/AJC, I will be hosting one on the first night. Believe me, pressing a button on a device is far easier than adding seats and plates to the literal table. When we say the Ha Lachma Anya this year from the comfort of our own homes, there isn’t an excuse anymore if we left anyone out.
This year, let us all make sure that our Passover preparations, pre-Seder Seders and actual Seders are dedicated to connection, especially with those who are isolated and alone during this trying time. Help make sure that everyone who wants a meaningful Passover experience has one. If that inclusive Seder can be our own, what a blessing it will be to finally fulfill the words of the Haggadah: “Let all who need the Seder, come to my Seder!”
For a list of ways to give and connect with those in need, please visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/JCRCAJC.