Robert Couse-Baker via flickr

Passover 2020

A passover like no other.

“Why is this night different from all other nights?”

The answer is pretty clear for Pesach 2020. For millions of Jews around the world, Pesach is the highlight of our religious year. The Exodus is central to Jewish belief, the defining moment of our people. Pesach is also a deeply personal holiday, with its central mitzvah performed at home, with family and friends, singing and telling the story of who we are. For many, it’s a time for a vacation, to relax and truly appreciate what it means to be free. It involves advance preparations and a lot of time, effort and money invested. Many of those plans involved traveling, whether to hotels, other family or other countries. The pandemic has made such vacations impossible, canceling flights, programs and gatherings outside of one’s immediate family.

I’ve always spent Pesach at home with my family of eight. Ever since I was little, I was always jealous of my friends who would come back from their elaborate vacations to Azerbaijan, Thailand, China, Greece, Mexico, Brazil and Israel. I always felt a twinge of jealousy when Pesach came around. This year, however, I wasn’t alone.

It’s ironic how, just like our ancestors in Egypt, were forced to remain inside our homes and pray that the plague would pass over us too. Nevertheless, we sat down to a beautiful Seder, even though we weren’t under ideal conditions, to read the Haggadah, tell the story of our people and praise God. The most poignant moment of the Seder arrives early on when the youngest person (or people) at the table recites the Four Questions, which focus on the refrain “Why is this night different from all other nights?” This year, for better or for worse, it isn’t difficult to find an answer.

Esther Ginzberg is a freshman at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck, N.J.

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