Sylvia Burian
Wanna-be writer, coffee connoisseur, grammar nerd, mom, friend, and HR professional

From slavery to freedom, my solo Passover

Lake Maggiore, Switzerland. By: A. Fenix

To be totally honest, I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself over the past few days. For the first time in my life I will be alone on Passover. A seder for one. Ugh. And while I know I am “lucky”; I’m healthy, my family is healthy, I have a roof over my head, food on the table and a job, it’s still been hard. I’ve actually been dreading it.

But today, on Erev Pesach, I’m feeling a little better and it’s because of two things that happened yesterday. The first involves my mom. My mom is 92 years old and has been on “lockdown” since the beginning of March. She is also a Kindertransport “kid” who left Vienna when Hitler came to power in 1939. Over the past 10 years she has spoken to hundreds of people at the Museum of Jewish Heritage about her experiences before, during and after the war. She has also been invited by both the German and Austrian governments to commemorations for Yom Hashoah and Kristallnacht. There is nothing that gives her more pleasure than telling her story. And people love her. So unsurprisingly, while on “lockdown”, many people have called to check-in to see how she is doing and she is so appreciative of that. But yesterday morning’s call was stunning.  Yesterday, my mom received a “check up” call from the German consulate general. Yes, you read that right, the GERMAN counsulate general. He said he wanted to make sure she was alright. He wished her a “Happy Passover”. She was tickled! (her word, not mine.) I was floored.  Suddenly, that kindness to my mother made me feel part of something bigger than just me.

The second thing is a Facebook group called “View from my window”. The group was created to connect people from all over the world, the thought being, we are all stuck at home (#stayhome), but there is no reason not to “virtually “visit. This group invites everyone to share a photo of the view they see every day from their homes. And what views people have! In the last day I’ve seen the Swiss Alps, the beaches of Rio, farmland in England, a narrow street in Sicily, some kangaroos in Australia and the quiet streets of Jerusalem. The comments that accompany these photos are even more heartwarming… “Love from Omaha, NE”, “Stay safe, greetings from Tirana, Albania”, “NY is in our hearts, from Belgium”, “Chag Sameach from Netanya!”. It has been one big virtual hugfest!

In one day, my perspective changed…from Avdut (slavery) to Cherut (freedom). From the “slavery” of negative thoughts and to what I was missing, to the “freedom” of being able to celebrate goodness, connection, beauty and love.

Yes, this year I’m alone for Pesach in the literal sense. But I feel more connected to the world than I ever have.

Chag Sameach.

About the Author
Sylvia Burian lives in New York City. She currently works at the Trevor Day School in Manhattan as the Director of Human Resources.
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