Pesach 2020: My Wish for You

Image: A desk and a laptop.

It’s going to be a very odd Passover. All around the world, Jews are gathering, but not at seder tables. We are gathering around laptops and smartphones to hold a “socially distanced seder” — to do our best to observe the commandments of Passover without encouraging the spread of a terrible disease.

If your house is like ours, there is also a makeshift theme to this seder. We didn’t have horseradish, so our maror will be a little bottle of hot sauce. No shankbone is obtainable, so we’ll have a drumstick on the plate instead. No nuts for proper charoset, so I’m putting an apple on the seder plate and using apple butter from the pantry for the Hillel sandwiches. This year, the role of parsley will be played by celery tops. We use what we have.

We are not the first Jews to improvise a seder plate under adverse conditions!

This Passover, we are surrounded by lachatz — stress. Instead of, or addition to Passover cleaning, we learned how to decontaminate our groceries. Invisible viruses are the new chametz, and they seem to lurk everywhere.

So don’t stress over the details of Passover. Improvise. Do the best you can. Do what you can and let the rest go. If you read the Haggadah alone over chicken soup, know that you aren’t really alone – there are many Jews doing the same thing. If you can do only part of the seder, if you settle for watching The Prince of Egypt, it is still ok. Do what you can. Remember all the Jews who have celebrated this holiday under adverse conditions, and let Dayeinu (It would have been enough!) be the theme this year.

Wherever you celebrate, however you celebrate, my wish for you, dear reader, is that some of the sweetness of Pesach come through to you this year. This year we celebrate separately; may next year we all come together again.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

4 thoughts on “Pesach 2020: My Wish for You”

  1. Thank you for the words. It is true, we do what we can. As a vegan Sephardic Jew, I usually use a beet as a substitute for the shankbone. This time, I could not find beets at the grocery store, so I am going to follow the example of Talmudic Rav Huna (Pesachim 114b), and a vegan blog I read a while back and use rice grains in place of the shankbone, I have no idea how that makes sense, but Dayenu.

    Chag Pesach Sameach!!!

    KR4ZAN (Yes, it’s been a while since I have posted, but I am always reading you)

  2. Zoom Seder and ShareScreen Haggadah last night, not feeling alone improvising with about 75 others. Your article is a glimpse into how we all find a way.

  3. We zoomed our Seder with a total of 4 households and 9 people total. The upside was that we in Durham, NC could share Seder with our very own Rabbi Rebecca Reice and her hubby, in Austin,TX. I added a lemon to the plate, as a nod to how we were making lemonade out of lemons, during this pandemic! Years ago, I roasted a shank bone and after the Seder, put it in the freezer. I use it every year and it has served us well. We had a small stack of matzah left over from last year and it was in amazingly good condition….ah, matzah. All things being said, it was a a resilient and connected time. But, that actually sort of defines how and we are living right now. Stay home. Wash your hands, even though you are home all the time! Keep your sense of humor, and remember who loves you. Pesach Sameach.

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