Why is This Passover Still Different From All Other Passovers?

Tags: Federation, Shabbat & Holidays

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Last Passover, we talked about staying home alone for the safety of others. This Passover begins with Havdalah, which is fitting because as a community we literally sit in a place of separation – between what was pre-COVID-19 and what will be as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, we would congregate with friends and families, often in large groups, for the Passover Seder. Last year, we sat alone, in our pod or on Zoom. This year, we sit in a place between light and darkness – between hosting others and being alone. Some of the seats at our table will still need to be physically empty this year. And we will mourn all those we have lost over the past year.

On all other Passovers, we read about the four children. On this Passover, we introduce four new guests into the story of the holiday: the vaccinated one, the one who wants to be vaccinated, the one who isn’t able or doesn’t have access to the vaccine, and the one who is choosing not to be vaccinated. In our community, how do we embrace them in the same way in which we include the four children in our Haggadah?

On all other Passovers, we celebrate leaving Egypt and entering the land of Israel. On this Passover, we look ahead to a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and recognize that some of us feel excitement while others feel panic and anxiety from that same light.

On all other Passovers, we retell the story of the exodus from Egypt so that in every generation people see themselves as having once been slaves. On this Passover, we reaffirm that being part of a community means that our positive actions impact others. Just as we left no one behind in the story of our exodus from Egypt, let us recommit ourselves to leaving no one behind this Passover.

Last year, I shared that I grew up going to a close family friend’s Seder in Syracuse, who had actually left Egypt herself. Before the meal, all of the single women would go outside to eat a hard-boiled egg. Yes, this is a traditional Sephardic (fertility) ritual (and, yes, it still can be really cold in Syracuse at this time of year). Perhaps this year, we should all go outside and eat an egg so that the year ahead will be one of growth and thriving for our entire community?

Chag kasher v’sameach – Happy Passover. L’Shana Haba’ah b’Yerushalayim – next year in Jerusalem. Next year in good health. Next year with your relatives of all ages. Next year with new and old friends. Next year with community. Next year in Cleveland and in Jerusalem.

Stay healthy and stay in touch.

Shabbat Shalom,

Erika B. Rudin-Luria

P.S.: If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact Access Jewish Cleveland at 216-292-4636 or online. We are here for you.

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