Streets across the country are completely empty due to quarantine measures. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

2020 Diaries: Passover In Quarantine

Passover was a special gem in the midst of all the coronavirus madness.

Jews everywhere celebrating Passover this year had no choice but to laugh as we asked, “Why is this night unlike all other nights?” I sure did as I sang the traditional Hebrew questions at my Seder. This year was certainly the most unusual Seder I’ve ever been to. Because of social distancing rules, we obviously couldn’t have any family or friends over, and since my older brother moved out for college last year, our dinner was just me and my dad. It felt unnatural to celebrate a holiday meant to be spent surrounded by loved ones with only us two, but these are strange times. We sang and prayed together as a tiny chorus, celebrating all the ironies of having Passover in April 2020. We joked that we couldn’t let Elijah in due to the quarantine orders.

Passover was a special gem in the midst of all the coronavirus madness. My senior year ended abruptly, I lost my restaurant job, both of my parents are out of work, and I haven’t seen most of my friends in over a month (and it seems it will be much longer). It’s hard to process that an actual pandemic is taking place all around us. Pandemics seem like distant historical events; they seem like something that we should have eradicated by now, with all of our modern medicine and technology. I live in Austin, and though the city has quickly transitioned from a bustling metropolis to a ghost town, the change of pace doesn’t make the situation feel any more real. The few times I’ve gone out to the grocery store or just for a quick drive to ease my nearly fatal boredom, the streets are incomparably more empty than typical traffic-strewn Austin but seeing anyone at all gives me hope that life is still mostly normal. 

There has been a social media-driven burst of encouragement to be wildly productive and creative while we’re all stuck at home, but my extremely lazy side has come to light. I’ve been re-watching everything I’ve already watched on Netflix, procrastinating homework for hours and then days and video chatting with the same three or four people over and over. While a part of me feels like this should be a time for deep and constant reflection and self-improvement, in reality, I’m stuck in the mindset of relaxing into a pillow at Seder. After all, at Passover, we tell the story of how Jewish people were enslaved and are now free. Why not celebrate that freedom with one more YouTube video before getting out of bed? 

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Madelyn Pollack is a senior at Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.

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