Many families across the country are figuring out how to celebrate Passover in non-traditional ways in the midst of a global pandemic. My extended family will be forgoing the usual traditions and instead we have planned a Zoom seder. I decided to give my family some advice on how to make our seder as much of an authentic Passover experience as possible. Please feel free to take some of these suggestions or leave them as you wish.
1. Please sit in your car for at least 1 hour prior to the seder. For a more Long Island Expressway feel (or insert traffic ridden highway of your choice here), drive around the block and stop short a few times. It will get you in the aggravated seder spirit and once again serve as a reminder of why Passover never seems to fall on a weekend.
2. Once you have sat in your car for an unnecessary amount of time, have someone waiting at the door asking you, “What took you so long?” or “How did the GPS take you?” instead of the more commonplace pleasantries like, “It’s so good to see you!” and “We’re so happy you’re here!”.
3. Once settled, time for some nosh, which is an array of beige and brown foods. Remember to keep repeating to everyone, “Who brought the chopped liver?”.
4. Now that you have satiated yourself, time for everyone in the family to congregate in the kitchen for a few minutes. And not just anywhere in the kitchen, but right next to the oven to get nice and sweaty and complain that it is hot when everyone can sit in the living room and be comfortable. You then open some windows for everyone to then complain that it is cold. Remember Passover only happens on odd weathered days and it is probably 80 degrees outside, but the host probably did not turn on the air condition.
5. Oh great, 6:30pm is approaching, so time to get settled. Have an unnecessary argument about where everyone is sitting. Does it really matter anyway? Sit in awkward silence for 5 minutes reminding yourself that this is tradition! Remember once you sit you probably won’t be able to get up to use the restroom for at least another 45 minutes.
6. Great the seder is starting! Here’s some friendly reminders during the seder:
Question why Maxwell House makes Haggadahs. Why are we trusting a coffee company to retell us the story of our ancestors?
- Say some prayers – boy do we need those right about now
- Sit in a crappy folding chair that’s been collecting dust in your uncle’s garage for the last few months worrying if it will collapse or not
- Read the four questions
- Say the plagues (Ah, remember the days when the plagues were scarier than current earthly disasters?!)
*Disclaimer* Zoom only allows 45 minute conference calls. So, by now, my family has probably been disconnected, trying to have reconnected and ultimately given up. I decided I would give some additional suggestions, pro bono.
At this point we have the “festive meal” with some our favorite traditional Passover foods. I made a list so you don’t forget:
- Matzah – Won’t need that toilet paper for a while
- Gefilte Fish – 1% Fish 99% Unknown
- Horseradish- I know, I know. There are two different types of white horseradish (one is “hot” and the other is “really hot”). Bring both to the table and say, “OK, this horseradish is the ‘hot’ one and this one is the ‘really hot’ one.” Frankly, everyone is confused at this point.
- Haroset- As always, I (Meredith) make it. I included my recipe below. This way everyone can still say, “Wow Meredith did you do something different with the haroset?” or “This haroset is delicious” where I will kindly say, “No nothing different with the recipe,” and then proceed to sink into my seat.
- Boiled eggs and boiled peeled potatoes – I know some families don’t participate in this tradition, but I’ll spare myself the indigestion and kindly pass those delicacies to the next person, who then will take a potato out of Jewish guilt and watch them have a cold potato swirl in some salt water on a Chinet brand appetizer plate for 10 minutes till dinner is served.
- Brisket, Chicken, Kugel – This is when everyone lets the table know they are on a diet and are passing on the carbs
Ah, with stomachs filled for the next few months to tithe everyone over during this pandemic, everyone is now tired, full, and ready to congregate into the living room for the Mets game to wait until the dessert is served. Good thing now since there’s no live sports for the next two months, you and your loved ones get to enjoy the second part of the seder. I’ve added what to do, pro bono:
- Allow Elijah into your home. Please remind him to wash his hands and take his shoes off. In our household he will probably be drinking on the front porch. We will let the neighbors know that it’s OK, a stranger is allowed to drink on our porch.
- Mumble some songs that you have been mumbling since the dawn of time.
- Say, “Next year in the land of Jerusalem.” Although, Israel probably won’t be letting anyone into the country for the next few months due to the pandemic since they are 10 steps ahead in science and technology anyway.
- Eat a macaroon that you choke on annually and eat some flourless cake you will instantly regret.
- Start your Jewish goodbye. These last between 30-45 minutes prior to your actual departure time. You will also need a six person escort to your car to wish you well on your treacherous journey home.
- Sit in your car for another hour, stopping short occasionally. Now that traffic is light, there is less need to be aggravated about the commute but aggravated instead at the behavior of some of your family members. You are now more cognizant though of the potholes. Arrive safely home.
Ah yes, a traditional Passover seder just the way our ancestors would have wanted it.