Paul Gross Zoom Seder
Paul Gross decided to do his Seder on Zoom, with family members joining in from their respective homes. (Photo: Paul Gross)

By Paul Gross

A seder that was initially “missing something” actually became something much more special than anybody anticipated.

Every year, I lead my family’s seder. However, as with most Jews around the world, family gatherings are strongly discouraged to prevent spread of the coronavirus. It took 10 plagues to weaken Pharaoh’s spirit, but I wasn’t about to let this 11th plague take away my seder.

So, like many local Jews, I decided to do my seder on Zoom, with family members joining in from their respective homes. I proceeded to make my late Uncle Ed Sherman’s famous horseradish and, on Tuesday, family members came and (safely) picked some up. On Wednesday morning, I (safely) delivered horseradish to other family members, as well as close friends who receive some of the “red gold” every year. While that brought great joy, I knew that something very important was missing.

At first, I was really depressed about not having everybody at my house.

It’s truly one of the highlights of my entire year. But then something happened that didn’t just change my attitude, but actually boosted my spirits: Out of town relatives I had not seen in quite a while joined in, and some by surprise. As people’s images started popping up on the screen, all of a sudden, I saw my cousins Cathy and Kenny Shiovitz from Seattle there. I had no idea my cousin Julie Blair invited them!

Other family members were surprised when my cousin Lori Gross and her husband, Fraser, popped up from New York … I had invited them and not told the others. New York cousins Jennifer and David Soberman and their children, Jonah and Drew, also joined the Detroit Seder for the first time. And my cousins Linda and Chuck Soberman, who are usually at their winter home in Mexico this time of year leading a community seder, came home early due to the coronavirus and were a part of the Detroit-area family seder for the first time in a long time.

My in-laws, Alan and Denny Camiener, also participated. “Alan and I were so sad. We thought we were just going to sit home alone on Pesach and not be with family,” Denny said. Instead, the evening turned into a wonderful video seder, with everybody kibitzing as usual.

So, a seder that was initially “missing something” actually became something much more special than anybody anticipated. Perhaps even my family’s most special one ever.

The Passover story is about dedication and perseverance, and the coronavirus initially seemed like an insurmountable stumbling block. Back in March, who would have thought that the glass was half full, rather than half empty?

Local Jews not only made the best of the situation, but also created lasting memories. Children will remember how observing Passover is so important that, even during a time when they were not allowed to gather, families still figured out a way to tell the story and celebrate the escape from slavery and march to freedom. Next Year, in Jerusalem! And at our homes…

Paul Gross is a Local 4 meteorologist and Temple Kol Ami past president.

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