Why is this night different to all other nights?

This year seder night will be different for all of us. Whether you had plans to be abroad or with friends or extended family, this year we find ourselves having seder with just our household. This may be your first time leading seder night so I wanted to share a few thoughts for seder in the age of corona.

  1. Take advantage of this intimate setting. Direct it to your children. This year, since we will be at home with just our family, we plan to spend most of the seder reclining on cushions and mattresses in a less formal setting. Bring out the costumes, decorate the room. Enjoy the fact that it can revolve around your family’s needs.
  2. Seder night is not a marathon.
    You have the whole week of Pesach to come so don’t feel like every element or d’var Torah must be crammed into this one evening.
  3. Make it relevant.
    If your child has spent this isolation period reading the entire Harry Potter collection, then think up how to interest him/her. Who would the 4 sons be if they were Harry Potter characters? Which of the 4 houses would be for each of the sons?
  4. Relate it to this current time period.
    What you choose to focus on depends on what ideas you want to leave your family with at the end of the evening. These aims and goals determine the entire structure, be it freedom, gratitude, faith in God, family or some other value.
  • Talk about (or reenact) that first Pesach in Egypt and how the Israelites weren’t allowed to leave their homes in order to be protected from the 10th plague. This reminds us that our home offers safety and sanctity and God is looking after us. They also had to paint their doorposts with blood, it required action from the people. What action can we do in this time of coronavirus?
  • We begin our seder with “Ha Lachma” inviting all those want to come and eat to join us. How can we give to others in different ways during this time?
  • What about the fact that our door is closed – what then does it mean to open our door for Eliyahu?
  • This seder we don’t have grandparents present. The Haggada focuses on the chain of generations who have told this story before us, and so many of our songs and customs have been passed on through our families. How can we maintain this connection and use the rest of Pesach to connect to our family and appreciate them?
  • The differences then and now, positive and negative. Leaving Egypt brought freedom, yet the Israelites often longed to return to Egypt, especially because of certain foods. How is life different to pre-corona? What do we miss and which of these changes do we want to maintain and how can we do so?
  • Freedom. What does this really mean? Are we free when we cannot leave our homes? Pesach is not just a time for national freedom but also personal freedom in our own lives. What freedom do we want to attain at this time?

Wishing you a wonderful seder night and Pesach.

Chag sameach

About the Author
Ilana Harris is a teacher, educator, writer and blogger. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and four kids.
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