Passover under quarantine – an evolution

Family heirlooms - Photo courtesy of ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC/Lori Prashker-Thomas

I have been sitting for the last few days and thinking…Thinking about the past,   thinking about the present and thinking about the future.  But I keep coming back to this idea of religion and faith.  I grew up with my mother who was raised in an orthodox home and my father who was raised in a reformed home.  When they got married, they compromised and raised their family in a conservative shul but educated us in an orthodox elementary school.  We learned the basics (and I do mean the basics) of speaking Hebrew but we can go into any shul and daven without an issue and read Chumash verses and translate Rashi…you get the point.

We learned about the holidays and with-it being Pesach that is where my thoughts went to.  I am thinking about this because this is the first year that I have not had a seder (virtually or in-person), no family to sit around the table and read the Haggadah with, no hiding the afikomen, no cup of wine for Elijah and no singing “Chad Gadya” and laughing our way through because we are “shnookered” from the 4 cups of wine, no matzah or any other kosher for Passover foods.

You may ask what brought me to this decision?  Honestly, I am not sure I can even answer that question.  I think it has to do with the way I am feeling because of the circumstances that surround us at this time.  All of the death we see and read in the news, the sadness I feel, the fear of the unknown, missing my parents and other family members (both by blood and chosen) who are no longer with us.  Holidays just aren’t the same.

Growing up the way I did, yes, the inner guilt kicked in and I hemmed and hawed, should I or shouldn’t I, but I ended up doing the latter.  Do I feel guilty? Yes, but I will do what I can,  but what bothers me, even more, is that I was made to feel guilty and judged by some within my community.  Some friends, some acquaintances, some complete strangers.  Some sent articles from Chabad.org, some tried to ask if they could just drop off some things, some tried to get me to break the quarantine and come to Seder and I said no to it all.  I politely said, the food you were going to bring to me please give to someone who cannot afford, the articles that were sent I read and took to heart but probably did not take the same message home that the people who sent them to me had hoped.

This is definitely a year of firsts.  Quarantine because of COVID-19 outbreaks, virtual Seders, virtual happy hours, working from home…you get it because we are ALL dealing with this around the world.  I had another first though.  That first is that I am at peace with my decision to not do a traditional Pesach this year and do what is right for me and my family.  G-d is not in the details, G-d is always in my heart, surrounding me and my family and holding me up and only He knows what is in my heart.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.  לשנה הבאה בירושלים‎ – Next year in Jerusalem.

About the Author
Lori Prashker-Thomas is a Jewish Birth Mother, who up until recently never discussed her story of placing a child for adoption because of the stigma attached to the subject within the Jewish community. She is now an advocate for Jewish women, both as a speaker and writer/author and her first book entitled "From Mistakes to Miracles: Jewish Adoption From a Jewish Birth Mother's Point of View" will be released in 2020. Lori is also Owner and Officiant at Ceremonies by Lori and is Co-Owner of ShadowCatcher Photography with her husband, Michael.
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