Resources for a Unique Passover - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Resources for a Unique Passover

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Passover

A very unusual Passover approaches, a Passover unlike any other. A Passover when we, who are accustomed to living in freedom, find our movement restricted. When we, who every year celebrate Passover together by opening our doors, are forced to hold our seder with only immediate relatives behind closed doors. And so today, we find ourselves preparing differently, with more intention for this unique Passover.

We collected some resources below to help us prepare together as a community:

Join or create your own virtual seder: One Table Onetable is still nourishing us (by helping with food costs) for virtual, solo, and immediate family Passover seders. Use can use an online video call app to bring other faces to your seder table.

Share the Passover basics My Jewish Learning Myjewishlearning.com is a first stop resource for everything you learned in Hebrew school but can’t quite remember.

Study Passover topics Sefaria Sefaria is great for all kinds of text study from independent primary source research, to subject guides like the one on this link, to creating source sheets for teaching (and seder leadership this year).

Take action Reform Judaism How can we grow from this COVID-19 quarantine challenge? Here are some ways to include the broader community in our Passover experience and to make meaning out of mayhem.

Create your own haggadah Haggadot A free resource to use with Sefaria and other online resources to customize your Haggadah and your Passover night. Many haggadot are available online, including the manuscript collection at HUC Manuscript Haggadot

Listen to Passover music Pandora Passover Use an established station or create your own Passover playlist. Hours of cleaning afford hours of music listening opportunities. Jewish Rock Radio has Passover music on their livestream.

As we approach Passover and remember the Exodus from Egypt, one cannot help but feel that we are not physically free this year. As we are all physically restricted to sit at home alone to observe the shelter in place order, we can instead turn our thoughts to spiritual freedom. Egypt in Hebrew is Mitsrayim מצרים. The Hebrew letters that spell Mitsrayim can also be vocalized as mi-tsarim, “from the narrow places.”

We read the Song of the Sea on Shabbat Shirah in February of this year and will read it again on the seventh day of Passover. This period has indeed felt like a journey into a narrow, restricted place, the terrifying passage between the walls of water when God parted Yam Suf, the Red Sea. However, we must recall that after God split the sea, He in fact led us in safety to the other side.

My thoughts now turn to the different types of freedom. Physical freedom when we can still walk outside and greet friends from a safe distance, social freedom when we can connect online and by phone, and spiritual freedom. Our exodus from Egypt was so much more than a physical escape; we threw off servitude to Pharoah in order to accept spiritual service to God. This Passover can uplift us in spiritual freedom even as our physical movements are restricted.

After Passover, we count the days of the Omer until Shavu’ot, also called זמן מתן תורתינו, the time of the giving of our Torah. Our Exodus from Egypt marked our physical passage out of slavery, our passage through that literally narrow space between walls of water. During our journey to Mount Sinai, we grew into a free people who were ready to choose to follow God. As we follow our ancestors’ journey from Mitsrayim to Yam Suf to Har Sinai, I pray that we again can grow in our love for God, our fellow Jews and all of God’s creations. This Passover we will stand physically separate and together in spirit. I also pray for mercy and healing from heaven and a speedy end to this pandemic. I pray that this Shavu’ot, we can stand together again at Sinai, both in spirit and in space.

Contributed by Chana Wolfson, Assistant Judaica Librarian

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