This question is a pinnacle part of a Passover Seder (ritual/festive meal) asked by the youngest in attendance. Typically it’s followed by a lengthy answer, telling the tale of plagues and exile, then freedom. This year, the answer seems much simpler: Because the world changed and our Passover, and our Easter, will be like no other.
With stay-at-home orders in most states and people quarantined everywhere from lavish homes, high-rises, rural towns and farms to urban and suburban abodes, lately it seems that this night/day isn’t different at all. It’s the same as we learn and live – and fight! – day to day to flatten the curve, save lives and rid our population of Covid-19.
Yet tomorrow night as millions of Jews around the world usher in Passover and later this weekend millions more usher in Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we have to acknowledge that these holidays are different than others, and we have to allow ourselves to feel.
My first thought was that we must allow ourselves to mourn the loss of tradition this year, the loss of what so many of us know and love about these holidays with our families, our rituals, our foods. I’ve recognized that I’m feeling a loss of what I know this holiday to be, while hoping to create an indelible memory with my kids and extended Zoom family that will bring joy and fill our hearts. The funny thing for me is that Passover is, by far, my least favorite holiday – so much prep work, don’t love the food, and it just doesn’t excite me most of the time. But the Seders bring me joy because I love being with family and friends – generations of cousins, incredible sets of grandparents whose suns and moons rise around their grandchildren, and sometimes unique Seders with friends and new traditions. So the fact that I’m feeling sad surprises me a little.
But I’m letting myself feel. We must allow ourselves that in these trying times.
I mentioned my first thought was allowing ourselves to mourn. But I had a second thought earlier today when I chatted with a lifelong friend who, frankly, busts her ass year after year, back-to-back nights to prep her home, cook for 30-something people each night, and do the clean-up, to boot. And now that we’re forced to isolate, she’s feeling lightness, less pressure, relieved that she can focus on trying to work from home, parent and keep her sanity while creating a sweet space for her nuclear family to recognize the holiday.
She has to let herself feel. We must allow ourselves that in these trying times.
So whether your Zoom Seders, virtual Good Friday or Easter services go off without a hitch or don’t go off at all, take this holiday-focused, reflective time to love yourself, care for your family, and feel.
I would, of course, encourage gratitude. Find the silver linings: less cooking, less clean-up, no need for shoes, let alone make-up, undivided attention to your nuclear family and technology that lets us still share some moments and tend to those we love who may be isolated, to rattle off a few.
And four cups of Passover wine, and Easter candy!
We will all feel things in the coming week. Whatever those feelings are, please own them, acknowledge them, embrace them and be kind to yourself. Your Seder may be a bust. The Easter Bunny may be a no-show. But the spring is here, both holidays mark that. And maybe that means an awakening, a new beginning?
I can’t answer that question but I do hope it aligns with Passover’s theme of freedom.
To you and yours, happy holidays. Stay home. Stay safe. Stay grateful.
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