"We said a prayer for health care workers. We made jokes about the prophet Elijah maintaining six feet of social distancing. We drank grape juice and terrible wine."
Let all who are hungry, come eat.
That’s how the Haggadah, the prayer book used for Passover, normally begins.
Normally, we spend the holiday at my mom’s house in Blacksburg, Virginia. Normally, we bake a cake with a ridiculously high egg count, because the whites make up for the lack of leavening that the holiday prescribes.
But nothing about this year is normal.
We didn’t travel to my mother’s. We didn’t have access to an abundance of eggs. We didn’t invite friends to come over.
But here’s what we did do:
We picked tulips and daffodils from the yard for our table.
We sacrificed some of our butter for the traditional matzah crack (essentially: toffee made with matzah, butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips).
Like many families across Northern Virginia, we Zoomed. In our case, it turned the relatively small Seder at my mom’s house, with matching dishes, into a large Seder online across time zones. In all, we had 24 people: Mom, brother, aunt, uncle. Cousins. Cousins’ cousins.
We took turns reading about symbolism and plagues and admiring Adam’s new mustache. We said a prayer for health care workers. We made jokes about the prophet Elijah maintaining six feet of social distancing. We drank grape juice and terrible, terrible wine.
We sang – though with the second-long delay, it sounded more like an awkward round than the harmonious triumphs we keep seeing on the internet. But it occurs to me that even when we’re all in one place, nobody quite starts and stops at the same time. All in all, it felt like Passover.
It was different, as it was supposed to be, from all other nights of the year. And it was different from all other Passovers, too.
We were not in Jerusalem.
We were not at my mom’s house.
But we were celebrating the way we were supposed to celebrate the holiday: together.
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