Passover is a time for friends and family to come together as a community and celebrate. This year, however, things have obviously been quite different. Many Jewish communities up and down the country held Seder meals on Zoom, unable to sit around the same table. While it should have been the Jewish Society’s first Passover together, the most important thing was staying inside with our families. The mood was more sombre than celebratory and reciting the story of Moses and the liberation of Egypt was strange for Jews who cannot go outside. Celebrating Passover in lockdown was a bizarre experience but being with my family was the most important thing. Yuval Arbel, a member of the society, recalls her experience:
‘Celebrating Passover without being surrounded by loved ones can only be described as bittersweet, on the one hand it brought me joy to know they were all safe and healthy in their own homes, on the other it removed the best part of the Jewish holiday … community. There is a pride and joy which comes with being Jewish which is often lost on those who do not experience it, that happiness thrives within the family of Judaism. When stumbling across a fellow Jew there is a recognition and connection which cannot be felt with anyone else and this year that connection had no choice but to be virtual. We spent the night on a Zoom call to thirty odd members of our family and yet the evening felt so empty on a table set out for just five. When the food had been cleared, we didn’t sit and chat about past years, we watched a film. But the night continued, we sang the songs of Passover on delay and showed each other (on camera) food we were unable to pass and share. Spending a Jewish holiday meant to celebrate our freedom in lockdown was too ironic to enjoy.’
‘Next year in Jerusalem!’ is the cry that ends every Seder night. We hope that by next year, we will all be together again as a community. As a society, we hope that everyone is keeping safe and well, and that soon the world will heal.
Rachel Gee and Yuval Arbel