Jews celebrate passover amid COVID pandemic with virtual seders

(WASHINGTON) — Passover seders are a communal ritual, with family, friends, neighbors, pretty much everyone except Elijah coming together under one roof to commemorate the story of Exodus.

As with almost everything in our world, that’s been completely upended this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a global kibosh on gatherings.

But with some ingenuity—and clutch technology—Jews from New Jersey to Jerusalem are breaking matzot anyway with virtual seders.

The virtual seders are just one of many examples of religions across the world quickly acclimating to worship in the age of coronavirus, a genre that includes livestreamed services (with some hiccups), drive-by confessionals, blessings to empty squares, and church services to rooms empty save for photos.

In the case of Wednesday night’s seders, togetherness was simulated in large part thanks to what renowned international relations figure Richard Haass called “the Book of Zoom.”
 
Zoom and similar teleconferencing services have rapidly become social-distancing mainstays as people everywhere scramble to work, teach, learn and socialize remotely.

Accoutrements of the COVID era—from hand sanitizer bottles to the puzzles many are using to keep from going bananas—were visible in numerous photos posted on social media and elsewhere.

And while the rambunctiousness is an annual seder feature for many families, there are some benefits to staying in your own home:

one benefit of a virtual seder, i’m definitely going to find the afikomen this year.
💙 happy + healthy #Passover https://t.co/o1PhT0O9hR

— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) April 8, 2020

Suddenly getting Virtual Seder FOMO? Don’t worry—Henry Winkler has you covered this weekend:

Come join us at our virtual Seder https://t.co/SlCUQIGkG1
5pm pacific time / 8pm eastern.
YOU ARE ALL welcome at our table

— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) April 8, 2020

Last night was only night one of Passover, meaning many more will be dialing in to seders tonight. We’ll see if they can top this:

My cousin won the virtual Seder by creating a burner Elijah account and making us let him in the zoom halfway through. pic.twitter.com/psnhltEXIQ

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