A million-gazillion Jews around the world celebrated Passover Seder 2020. Probably at least a gazillion of these seders were conducted and shared via ZOOM or other video conferencing platforms due to decrees of social distancing slapped on households around the globe forbidding us from physically sharing Seder tables with anyone aside from nuclear families who live under the same roof. Israel’s Channel 12 conducted the “Biggest Seder in the World”, ZOOMing families from all over the country in and out of the screen, including interviews with famous personalities from their own seders. At 20:30 people around the country from north to south, opened their windows and together bellowed out the “Mah Nishtana”, “Why is this night different from all other nights” because obviously EVERYTHING last night was different from all other nights, and from all other Seder nights.
And yet, I sincerely doubt whether anyone in this quarantine-beleaguered world had a Seder quite like mine. This Seder of Escapism was conceived and conducted by Ori Katzir, a relatively new resident of Kibbutz Nirim, my home. He had been dreaming of putting his idea into action for years but only now, with the option of a ZOOM-conveyed seder as the only real option for families to unite to conduct this year’s re-telling of our emancipation from Egypt, and the preceding period of the need to #stayhome which afforded him the time to sit down and compose the text, was he able to bring it to fruition. Katzir, who clearly has a knack for creativity and a wild imagination. authored a Haggadah which conceptually conjoined our people’s story of our exodus from Egypt with Beatles favorites embedded in the text in wildly appropriate places. Replacing “Avadim Hainu”, we sang “A Hard Day’s Night”; the dramatic sending the infant Moses adrift in the Nile was represented with “You’ve Got to Hide your Love Away.” Of course, we crossed the Red Sea in the “Yellow Submarine,” and so on with 7 other Beatles’ hits, which I belted out, tossing all inhibitions about my notorious lack of ability to hold a key, to the desert winds.
Katzir sent out a call through our Kibbutz’s Facebook group, inviting others to join, and I – being totally on my own, with all my family doing their own seder things at their own times; none of them jumping at my suggestion to join each other technologically, agreed to pilot the ZOOM. I hopped onto the Yellow Submarine bandwagon, which embarked on its journey to transverse the Red Sea promptly at 19:00. We were between 7-12 households on board throughout the seder. I sat at my workspace with my computer and two screens. Others sat in their living rooms, most seemed to have their screens planted proudly on their tables, right next to the Passover Seder plates. I sensed that even the Prophet Elijah, bearing a striking resemblance to George Harrison, hacked in and fleetingly ZOOM-bombed us to grab his cup of wine as we sang (off key and out of tempo, mostly, but not totally due to internet lags) and laughed our way through the evening.
Would I do it again? Probably not. I would much rather spend the evening with my loved ones and participate in the more traditional Seder of my childhood. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and a little escapism never hurt anybody. Especially when conducted virtually. Especially when the craziness of these times made this feel like one of the less insane things I have found myself having to do during the past weeks.
Hag Sameach everyone! Wishing you all a safe, happy, healthy Passover.