What makes this year’s Passover so special, yet so dangerous? That’s a good question, but one with an easy answer. You probably already know the answer, as it is one of global influence. This year, the global pandemic, COVID-19 or Coronavirus, will be an unwelcome guest at Passover Seder. This virus does not have any sympathy for the special occasions in one’s life, much less an event as significant as Passover. This pandemic has closed schools, restaurants, businesses and has led to worldwide panic. And as it has spread, so has a path of the instability of unprecedented nature, both culturally and socially.
A coronavirus can be as mild as the common cold, but the novel virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans. This coronavirus is much stronger and more powerful than other coronaviruses seen before. What makes it so dangerous, as well as contagious, is that it can often take from two-14 days of exposure to notice symptoms in the virus. This specific fact makes social and religious gatherings, such as the Passover Seder, virtually impossible to do with large in-person groups. With many individuals crowded around a dinner table, coupled with the fact that symptoms can be invisible, the likelihood of community spread increases.
This, of course, will inhibit the traditions of a normal, pandemic free Passover. The starkest difference between this year’s Passover compared to the last, is of course, the lack of physical interaction during the holiday. However, despite the lack of physical presence, we will not feel an absence of community. Tools for video conferencing like Skype, Zoom and Facetime are perfect for maintaining social distancing, as well as incorporating large groups of people together, as is common during Passover. Additionally, resources such as an online Haggadah might come in handy.
While this year might be a little unorthodox, Seders will go on as will the feeling of knowing Jews around the world are celebrating Passover in a similar fashion. In the end, it is our responsibility to reduce the risk of infection, even if that means a change in our Passover traditions.Sneakers