Jews celebrate Passover: Smaller but no less vital

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(AP) — Passover and its epic story — how the Jewish people escaped to freedom after plagues struck their oppressors — are uniquely resonant this year, as Jews find ways to honor the holiday amid the outbreak of what feels like a real-life plague.

The coronavirus has forced Jewish families to limit the celebratory Passover meals known as seders from extended families and friends to small, one-household affairs.

But the pandemic hasn’t cut the connection that Jews from all backgrounds feel to one of their calendar’s most important holidays – and, for many, the global crisis has deepened its meaning.

Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious relations at the American Jewish Committee, described the gravity of Passover during the coronavirus by reciting a key portion of the Haggadah, the sacred text Jews use on the holiday.

“‘This year we are enslaved – next year we will be free.’ That aspiration is very real this year,” Marans said, looking ahead to a future victory over the disease.

As the all-are-welcome spirit of seders is constrained by public health rules set up to help stop the virus, more liberal Jewish communities are embracing digital connections with socially distant family and friends.

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