“Can you see the Haggadah?” asked my uncle. “I am trying to screen share it with everyone.”
Due to COVID 19, my family’s Seder looked a little different this year. A string of emails directed my family members onto Zoom. Instead of seeing my family walk through the front door, a ping alerted me that a family member joined the Zoom call. Small squares filled the screen instead of the seats that filled the table in past years.
With about 10 different groups of people on the call, everyone took turns reading the Haggadah from the screen. Although it was far from conventional, the Seder still kept traditions in mind. When the time came for the meal, everyone said their goodbyes to avoid the awkwardness of virtual soup slurps, but we reconvened afterward to welcome in Elijah from our separate homes.
My family’s Zoom Seder was filled with questions regarding the technology we had to resort to as a result of quarantine. Usually, Passover happens smoothly and orderly with questions limited to Ma Nishtana and “Can you pass the kugel?” However, this year, Passover was filled with many uncertainties.
These uncertainties reflect the uncertainties of our ancestors. Working each day under the hot sun in Egypt, our ancestors did not know when the end of their slavery would come. Similarly, today, we do not know when quarantine and stay at home orders will end as different projections predict vastly different timelines for the end of COVID 19.
The current uncertainties in our society present contrast with the certainties of the Jewish people. Many people have tried to strip Jews of our traditions, but the Jewish heritage has survived inquisitions, destruction, pogroms, and the Holocaust. If Judaism can persist throughout persecution, Judaism can survive COVID 19, even thrive.
In my community, Jewish institutions and organizations have sprung online and have reached large audiences. In this scary time, people want to be a part of a kehillah, community, now more than ever, and Judaism, like always, is there to fill that want.
Passover this year may have been different, but Judaism will remain the same. Judaism has been able to adapt over time and location and survive during peace and war. In this uncertain time, one thing remains certain: quarantine can’t stop Judaism.
Molly Cohen is a junior at Cheltenham High School in Wyncote, P.A.Asics Onitsuka Tiger