Tag Archives: Seder table

Hosting a Virtual Seder During a Pandemic

Dear readers,

Hopefully, you are all in good health.

On April 02 there are 5,552 people registered in Belgium that are infected with the novel coronavirus who are receiving treatment in Belgian hospitals.
That there are only 1,143 deaths of the CoViD-19 virus at the moment is thanks to the exceptional precautions that the government has taken and which a large part of the population adheres to.

The coming week brings us, what in normal circumstances would be the busiest time for gatherings, in our effort to remember how God has liberated us, and to make sure that the younger generation would come aware how we always should remember how God Helps and Guides His People.

14 Nisan is normally the Day of The Memorial Meal.
This year that shall be different from all other years.

In Lockdown times, best not to meet too many people and to keep social distance, nowhere in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal shall there be an open public Memorial Meal or Pesach Seder.

While you might not be able to physically gather around the seder table this Passover, do not forget that you can come together online.

Check out our 10 tips for creating a meaningful and fun seder experience for your family and friends, near and far.

  1. Use the same Haggadah. 

    You could make and can use a Haggadah you could send out by e-mail beforehand and/or screen-share it with your guests, or encourage everyone to print their own copy.

  2. Designate an e-Moses.

    It can be very helpful to pick someone to lead the virtual seder. Make sure this person has experience successfully using Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc..

    He can play Moshe and let us remember how Moshe ditched his desert aesthetic and returned to the Egyptian palace to deliver God’s message, with the help of his brother and hype man, Aaron.

    Telling the exodus story he may not forget to bring forth how Moshe spoke about God commands and how God clapped back at the Egyptians. Children perhaps can have drawings made of the pathway formed between the walls of water and the Israelites who made it to the other side without harm.

  3. Make a “seating and speaking chart.”

    This year there can best not swapped places. Best is to have everybody all night using the same place at the table, and if possible having enough distance between each household member.

    But this year we should also account for the virtual seated next speaker. Figure out ahead of time who is going to read what. Throughout the seder, text the person you’d be sitting next to.  Be careful when all speakers are on there shall be too much echo and everything could become too chaotic. Therefore, let everybody stay muted and follow an order of speaking plus having put up an arm or (funny) sign requesting to speak.

  4. Maintain that there are no excuses for why people can’t attend.A danger of such critical times as these, is that people come a bit lazy or like to avoid their religious obligations.
    Unless, you know, they don’t have internet and/or a device to connect to it. Anyone can be part of your Passover experience.
  5. Have a practice run.The organiser best has several contacts beforehand with those who would take care of the surprises.Also, send instructions for accessing your virtual platform of choice ahead of time so nobody holds up the seder by not knowing their Wi-Fi or other password.For those who do not have their computer enough secured and therefore had best their camera taped, they have to be encouraged to take the stickers or tape off their cameras.
  6. Eat and drink with measure spread over the long time of gatheringAs usual at a seder have the different courses interrupted by animated talks, readings from Scripture and prayers.
  7. Work with what you have.

    With all the panic shopping, it can be intimidating to venture out to get everything you need. That’s OK. Get what you can and improvise the rest.
    Our people have survived greater quandaries with a little ingenuity and determination.If you can’t get matzah, cut some cardboard into squares or large circles (you can even put dots on them with a marker for texture, but do not consume—this is purely decorative). Swap out sriracha for horseradish. Use literally anything green. Squish trail mix into a charoset-like paste.Use a regular plate as a stand-in for a seder plate. It’s the thought that counts.
  8. Bring a little Purim to Passover.

    Never forget to make the long evening pleasant enough or entertaining enough to the children. Remember this night should be a night of remembering and giving it further to the next generation.Nobody would be against making some good fun and nobody would object to have people being dressed up as Moses, Aaron, Miriam, etc.Got kids? Great, they can be the frogs. Or the lice. It depends how stressed they’re making you.
    Got teens? Do the whole seder using Snapchat filters, then do a TikTok dance break in the middle of the seder for added social media cred. But only if, like, you know the choreo.
  9. A night different from all other nightsAlso do not forget that 14 Nisan is ‘super special’.Laugh a little hysterically and cry only a tad when you get to the Four Questions and someone has to ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
  10. A Liberation to celebrate

    Do your best, have fun and remember that though we are in isolation to protect ourselves, friends, families and fellow human beings everywhere, we are still free to be Jewish or Jeshuaist and celebrate our heritage and salvation by the Highest and Strongest!

Let us not forget to show our love to God by remembering what He has done and still does, and let us show our love to others by taking enough precautions to keep everybody safe and in good health. Even when we might be very isolated in our own cosy home, let us feel the union with brothers and sisters all over the world, and let our prayers be with them all.

Please pray:

I will seek to make this world a better place, for all people, today and tomorrow. To this, in their memory, I pledge myself. Ani ma’amin. Am Yisrael chai.

A Jewish community eating the symbolic Passover food during the Seder evening, the evening before the Passover festival (picture-alliance / dpa / Robert Fishman)

As you come to the end of the seder, remember that this uncertainty, while it already feels like 40 years of wandering in the desert, is temporary. The Israelites made it eventually. So will we.

Next year, in person!

For 2020:

Keep safe and well, having a lovely Passover seder.

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Preceding

CoViD-19 warnings

Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~

Pandemic Anxiety Busters~

Mel Brooks saying “go home” to Max Brooks

Christian Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

7 Ways To Boost Your Immune System in Lockdown

Love in the Time of Corona

Recrafting our World

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Reminders

  1. The unseen enemy
  2. Under-reporting the total number of coronavirus cases
  3. Coronavirus on March 11 declared a global pandemic on March 31 affecting more than 177 countries
  4. No idea yet for 14 Nisan or April the 8th in 2020 Corona crisis time
  5. Only a few days left before 14 Nisan
  6. First time since Nazi time no public gathering
  7. Voor het eerst in jaren weer een Pesach in isolatie
  8. Even in Corona time You are called on to have the seder
  9. A meal as a mitzvah so that every generation would remember
  10. A night different from all other nights and days to remember
  11. Let’s Think About Redemption Differently
  12. At the Shabbat HaChodesh: readings about blood, liberation and purification
  13. Zeman Chereisenu – the time of our freedom
  14. Ki Tisa – Torah Portion
  15. Egypt, Moshe and Those who never felt they belonged there
  16. In Every Generation: The Return of Anti-Semitism – Pesah Day 1, 5779
  17. The Most special weekend of the year 2018
  18. Call to help others
  19. How should we worship God? #7 The Breaking of Bread
  20. How should we worship God? #8 Love one another

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Listening While the Matzah Breaks

To remember:

  • some new approaches to making our seder more spiritually meaningful > this essay = reflection upon that process at greatest night of Jewish storytelling
  • desire to better “hear” + “experience” story unfolding at seder table
  • as a people lost so much storytelling tradition, at least in the sense of the listener hearing deeply and allowing the story to draw them into altered states of consciousness or deeper awareness of their reality. 
  • simple changes made in the seder.
  • Saturday night after Shabbat > explore ways of making the seder more deeply meaningful
  1. breaking of the matzah should be a moment that opens us up spiritually + makes us “hear” Haggadah in a deeper way
  2. slowing up chanting of the brachot = way to deepen awareness of blessing + set stage for a more spiritual experience of the seder.
  • Rav Shmuel’s Shabbat HaGadol shuir explored act of reclining during seder, various commentary on it, rules around it, + spiritual reasons behind it.
  • Imrei Emet > exodus only an imperfect redemption => each generation + each person uncovers some new aspect of freedom, of perfecting the redemption
  • open our minds to the depth of the seder, > create possibility of spiritual experience in which we can uncover something.
  • spiritual one-ness = oneness of G-d  > interrelated system operating in balance producing beauty + wholeness => humans may strengthen or disrupt that unity => you can hear + hearken to G-d as One, + to the responsibility you assume for the world.
  • Rebbe Nachman’s reflection on the idea that each person must say:
  • “The entire world was created only for my sake.” (Sanhedrin, 37a) “Consequently, because the world was created for my sake, I must constantly look into and consider ways of making the world better; to provide what is missing in the world and pray on its behalf.” (Likutey Moharan 5:1) {Autumn Musings – Kayaks, Sukkahs, and Chuppahs}
  • We are instructed to immediately start building our sukkah as soon as the Yom Kippur fast ends. It seems that all the self-examination and repenting and striving needs to be for something. We may know ourselves better, but now we need to build – and quickly, so we don’t lose momentum. {Autumn Musings – Kayaks, Sukkahs, and Chuppahs}
  • Haggadah should be heard more than read = we should seek to hear something below the surface.
  • seven-day festival of Matzot becomes a festival of Pesach = “‘Bread of affliction’” (Devarim 15:3) (Pesachim 115b).
  • Pesach = moment when the finite world of the Israelites changed dramatically, opening up limitless possibility to them
  • liberation of Israel = act of love

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Preceding articles:

The Last Supper was a Passover meal

Thought for the third day of the Omer

Counting each day and making them count

Machine matzo produced from shmura wheat in Israel

Machine matzo produced from shmura wheat in Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Additional reading for this most important weekend of the year:

  1. Most important weekend of the year 2016
  2. 1 -15 Nisan
  3. Yom Hey, Eve of Passover and liberation of many people
  4. This day shall be unto you for a memorial and you shall keep it a feast to the Most High God
  5. 14-15 Nisan and Easter
  6. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  7. Getting out of the dark corners of this world
  8. A Holy week in remembrance of the Blood of life
  9. Around the feast of Unleavened Bread
  10. The son of David and the first day of the feast of unleavened bread
  11. Day of remembrance coming near
  12. A new exodus and offering of a Lamb
  13. Observance of a day to Remember
  14. Jesus memorial
  15. Holidays, holy days and traditions
  16. Seven Bible Feasts of JHWH
  17. High Holidays not only for Israel
  18. White Privilege Conference (WPC) wanting to keep the press out for obvious reasons
  19. First month of the year and predictions
  20. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  21. Death of Christ on the day of preparation
  22. A Great Gift commemorated
  23. Shabbat Pesach service reading 1/2
  24. Passover and Liberation Theology
  25. Seven days of Passover
  26. Kingdom Visions of Rainbowed angel, Lamb in Mount Zion
  27. Kingdom Visions of God’s judgements and Marriage of the Lamb
  28. The Song of The Lamb #2 Sevens
  29. The Song of The Lamb #7 Revelation 15
  30. Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #3 Days to be kept holy or set apart
  31. Easter holiday, fun and rejoicing
  32. Like grasshoppers
  33. Peter Cottontail and a Bunny laying Eastereggs
  34. Who Would You Rather Listen To?
  35. Focus on outward appearances
  36. After darkness a moment of life renewal
  37. Deliverance and establishment of a theocracy

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Stumbling Toward Torah

Matzah breaking

By Rick Gwynallen

This year we tried some new approaches to making our seder more spiritually meaningful, and this essay is a reflection upon that process.  Most of these thoughts grew from a desire to better “hear” and “experience” the story unfolding at the seder table.  I feel like we have as a people lost so much storytelling tradition, at least in the sense of the listener hearing deeply and allowing the story to draw them into altered states of consciousness or deeper awareness of their reality.  Yet, this is the greatest night of Jewish storytelling and could also produce a deep experience of the story.

Usually ideas do not come out of nowhere.  They arise from experiences and and the sharing of thoughts.  There were a set of interactions and readings this year that fed into these reflections, and I should credit them right away.

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