OneTable/Made by Rebekah
Passover is not only a vacation with a meal. The meal is the vacation. It is a ritual individuals make across the desk. They collect to eat the identical meals, inform the identical tales, technology after technology.
“It is a second of transmitting historical past, but additionally transmitting identification. Which is why it is so vital to be with household,” explains Rabbi Marisa James, director of social justice programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York.
Individuals inform the story of the Exodus from Egypt, however additionally they carry out it — with meals, ritual, debate and track — to make everybody across the desk really feel like they’ve personally come out of slavery themselves. However this yr, due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders, individuals have to search out new methods to hook up with previous traditions.
Mara Gross arrange a video cooking date together with her mom, Barbara. Gross linked from her kitchen in Portland, Ore., to her mom’s in Northern California, to determine learn how to get her matzo balls as gentle and fluffy as her mother’s. Through Zoom, they talk about learn how to cope with the eggs (do not separate, however “beat the hell out it”), learn how to add the matzo meal (very regularly), and learn how to form them (dipping fingers in ice water to maintain the combination from sticking).
Gross and her accomplice and daughter normally make the journey to her childhood house for a giant household Seder, and he or she was actually trying ahead to studying these abilities in particular person. As an alternative, they’re going to have a video convention Seder, with cousins across the nation.
“We’ll get to mix and be with — quote unquote — household that we do not at all times get to have fun with. And that is one thing that is fairly particular,” Gross says. However — “nonetheless not the identical.”
Particularly this yr when her mom simply entered hospice.
“It is laborious to not get to be with household,” Gross acknowledges, with a deep breath. “It is laborious not to have the ability to help my mother and father in what’s a tough time for them. And it is laborious to not get to be collectively for celebrations. We solely have so a lot of these. And we do not get that this yr.”
Individuals are feeling loss all world wide. Of household, of well being, of certainty. And Rabbi Marisa James says the story of Passover, whereas it is about freedom, can be about laborious instances. And issues you possibly can’t management.
“We’re these Israelites, and saying properly they’re additionally abandoning a time that’s horrible, they are going via a time that’s terrifying, they usually have completely no concept what’s gonna be on the opposite aspect,” James says.
However they hold shifting. The web is presently crammed with talmudic-level debate about digital Seders. There are websites to connect participants that are hosting or in need of a virtual Seder, supplements and suggestions for digital seders, memes about plagues and ritual handwashing, rabbinic discussions about whether orthodox practice allows technology at all. Seder tables will look completely different this yr. Seder plates will too. And Rabbi James says that is high-quality. Like all rituals, Passover is not about stuff. It is about story.
“What are the issues that provide help to specific tears,” James asks. “What are the issues that provide help to specific constructing? What are the issues that provide help to specific renewal and pleasure? These are the issues on the Seder plate. You possibly can take something that’s in your home, something that in your yard, that symbolizes these issues, and inform a narrative. And that is a Seder. And that is a actual Seder.”
James says we do not know the place within the story we’re proper now. And possibly the bitter greens on the Seder plate will probably be dandelions from the yard. No matter form it takes, James says, individuals could make their Passover holy. Make the which means they want. They will choose up their selves, and their souls, and transfer via the ocean — this time of uncertainty — towards no matter’s subsequent.