Ellice Halpern

"Tonight we will get together for our first virtual Seder via Zoom."
Ellice Halpern Ami

Ellice Halpern with her extended family on Anna Maria Island

For the past few years, my family has rented houses together on Anna Maria Island (AMI) in Florida for spring break. We represent four generations, from the very young to the very old. AMI is located an hour south of Tampa and has brightly colored houses, gorgeous sunsets, delicious seafood and powdery white-sand beaches.

After we all arrive from various parts of the country, we make a grocery run, unpack the food and settle in for the week. My father and stepmother come from Sarasota for lunch, and then we all go to Sarasota for Passover Seder.

Our days are spent biking around the island, walking on the beach, reading, playing in the sand and in the water, throwing around a Frisbee and having great conversations. We move from the beach to the pool and then to happy hour with cocktails. We shower early so we can get in our golf cart, drive to the Sandbar restaurant and wait for a beachside table to open up for dinner. Sometimes we stay in and grill a feast of hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages by the pool.

When the sun is about to set, our family tradition is to drop whatever we are doing and head to the beach, where everyone claps as the sun goes down over the Gulf of Mexico.  Then we take the little kids to get ice cream and work on filming the movie that my son the filmmaker has written for us.

This year we canceled the houses that we booked, and our flights as well.

Tonight we will get together for our first virtual Seder via Zoom. My sister and my cousin have just been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Next year in Jerusalem” is a phrase often sung at the end of the Seder. Tonight I will say, “Next year on Anna Maria Island.”

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Categories: Covid Chronicles