Hillels are preparing for a second-year Passover under COVID restrictions, some in similar ways and some different from 2020.
Hillel of Metro Detroit, University of Michigan Hillel and Michigan State University Hillel are all preparing for a second-year Passover under COVID restrictions, some in similar ways and some different from 2020.
Hillel of Metro Detroit (HMD) will be purchasing Friendseder kits from The Well for students free of charge. Additionally, prior to Passover, HMD will be hosting a virtual community “Chocolate Seder” on Wednesday, March 24.
“We’re going to go through a Passover seder trivia-game style so that it’s an education piece as well, and every piece of the seder will have something chocolate corresponding with it,” Brittany Begun, associate director of HMD, said. “Instead of an egg, you might have a chocolate egg. We’re trying to find different things that correlate.”
HMD will also be making Passover bags, including “everything you would need to get through the week of Passover that we can provide for students,” according to Begun, including matzah and other snacks. The bags are free, and there will be different pickup locations for them.
While they didn’t expect to celebrate Passover this way for a second year, HMD is still hoping to support their students through this as much as possible.
“Last year, there was so much unknown, we didn’t really know how we could provide things to our students or what it was going to look like,” Begun said. “This year, we’re much more prepared, and students are taking an active role in planning all of these pieces and being a part of it.”
For questions, reach out to Begun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Michigan Hillel will be offering similar options, including the first night’s seder free for every student, with three ways to do that. Students can get individual take-out, get small group catering with roommates or they can cook their own meal and get reimbursed.
Rav Lisa Stella, director of religious life and education for U-M Hillel, is doing a Zoom seder in her home on the first night for anyone who wants to join.
“We just want to make sure that nobody is alone on seder night,” Stella said. “For Passover last year, students were mostly home. So, students who are staying on campus are actually experiencing Passover in this kind of a situation for the first time, and that’s really important for us to remember.”
U-M Hillel is also having prep options, including virtual workshops for students who are running a seder for the first time.
Additionally, U-M Hillel is putting together materials going into “swag bags” for students that sign up for the seder meal. The bag will include a seder plate puzzle (see photo), as well as anything students need for a seder experience like a Haggadah, candles and seder plate foods.
While the first night’s seder meal is free, U-M Hillel is also providing paid meals. People can pay for a meal for the second night’s seder and lunches and dinners through the rest of the holiday, though Shabbat dinner will be free, as usual.
There will be three different pickups for the paid meals, with all forms on the U-M Hillel website. Reservations are being taken until capacity is reached, with prices being $22 for each meal. For whom the cost is prohibitive, they should get in touch with Stella at email@example.com. For further information, visit michiganhillel.org/passover.
MSU Hillel is continuing to keep everything COVID-safe, doing seder’s virtually on the first and second nights of Passover.
MSU Hillel will be offering free to-go meals for students for the two seders. Additionally, they’ll be offering a seder-at-home option, reimbursing students for hosting on their own.
Similar to U-M Hillel, MSU Hillel will be offering Passover dinner meals that are available for purchase by students, with a free Shabbat dinner.
Nate Strauss, director of Jewish student life for MSU Hillel, realizes this year is a completely different experience than last year, one of the reasons for that being how acclimated students have gotten to Zoom.
“There’s been a change,” Strauss said. “Zoom experiences used to be not super fun or not as engaging, but over the past couple months and definitely since the beginning of the summer, we’ve noticed that Zoom experiences are incredible, and there are really amazing things happening. We want to continue that for Passover.”
For more information, you can visit msuhillel.org/passover.