Tonight, millions of Jewish families will sit down for Passover Seder 5780. With stay-at-home orders in place and strict social distancing guidelines being suggested by the CDC and WHO, we realize COVID-19 will force us to reinvent the way we observe Pesach. We understand not all Brothers will be able to make it home and must find a different way to connect with their families and friends tonight. We’ve created a how-to guide to make things easier for you. It’s not too late to get things ready for your Seder!
So whether you’re with family or alone and stuck somewhere far away, AEPi Brothers are here for you and you are never truly alone.
Where Do I Host My Virtual Seder?
If you are trying to host an online Seder, consider using one of these platforms:
But Is It Kosher to Video Chat?
Don’t worry! Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, several Orthodox and Conservative Rabbis have said it is ok to use video chat to bring people together on Pesach.
Be sure to test any platform and streaming equipment (phone, laptop, etc.) before hopping on your virtual Seder! Taking a few minutes to do this helps ensure you work through any hiccups before sundown.
What All Will I Need?
Stores have been ransacked of supplies and items may be limited, but the first thing to think about for this evening is creating your Seder plate. Luckily, many stores will have the Passover supplies you need.
Foods you will need to include on your Seder plate:
Shank bone (to symbolize the sacrificial lamb that the Israelites made to G-d before leaving Egypt): Just because this symbolizes a lamb, doesn’t mean you need to buy and prepare lamb for your plate! See what alternatives are available, such as chicken or beef.
Hard-boiled Egg (to symbolize fertility and the cycle of life)
Maror, or bitter herbs (to symbolize the harshness of slavery that the Jewish people experienced in the Exodus story): Horseradish and romaine lettuce are traditionally thought of as the bitter herbs to serve. If your store is out of these, try something else bitter like a lemon peel.
Charoset (to symbolize the clay or mortar that enslaved Israelites used in ancient Egypt to make bricks that built pyramids): Charoset is a sweet, dark-colored paste made of fruits and nuts. You have a wide variety of choices when making your Charoset! Try walnuts, apples, raisins, dates or almonds. Get creative if your Bubbe’s traditional ingredients aren’t available.
Chazeret (another bitter herb on the plate to symbolize slavery): The bitterness is usually a bitter lettuce or other bitter leaves, whereas the root of Chazeret (horseradish) is ground up. Some families mix the horseradish with beet in order to cut the bitterness. Chazaret is used to uphold the practice of eating “matzah and bitter herb.”
Karpas (to symbolize springtime and growth): Parsley is typically the fresh vegetable found to represent this on the Seder plate. However, the Seder blessing is Borei Pri Ha’adamah which refers to the fruits of the Earth, so you can substitute with something like a potato or celery if parsley is not available.
Saltwater (to symbolize the water or Egypt and the tears of the Israelites)
The Three Matzahs (to symbolize the unleavened bread): When the Israelites fled Egypt, they didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise. This unleavened bread became known at matzah.
What About My Pesach Dinner?
Keep the menu simple. Brothers can make matzo ball soup, brisket or pot roast, chicken or whatever is available. Roast up some vegetables and include potatoes as a side dish. If your dish is missing an ingredient due to availability, that’s okay. Passover dinner is meant to be an open interpretation and changes from family to family.
How to Hide the Afikomen
Hiding the afikomen, or dessert matzah, for people to find in your home can be a little tricky if you’re celebrating a virtual Seder. So what do you do to keep this timeless tradition alive?
Pick a hiding place in your chapter or family home and encourage Brothers and guests to guess where it’s hiding ‘20 Questions’ style. Take the phone or computer around with you if you can to show them the space while they guess.
You could also make a “Where’s Waldo” style drawing and share that with your virtual guests, encouraging them to find the hidden matzah.
Share A Digital Haggadah With Guests
The Haggadah is the book used to guide the Seder on Passover. We do Seders on the first two evenings of Pesach (tonight and tomorrow). Haggadah means “telling” and it does just that, retelling the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It also guides participants through the Seder meal and how to perform each rite.
Make sure all of your virtual guests are reading the same Haggadah. It can get confusing quickly if you don’t. We recommend checking out Haggadot.com or sending a PDF of one from Chabad. AEPi Brother Amos Meron (IDC, 2013) created this app for Passover, which includes a digital Haggadah.
Maggid – Telling the Story of the Exodus
If you are celebrating with AEPi Brothers and want to put your own AEPi twist on Seder tonight, try incorporating this:
After filling the second cup of wine (you’ll still have two more to go), the exodus of the Jewish slaves from Egypt is told. Involve your Brothers and family in this story-telling.
The Haggadah tells us about four sons: the wise son, the evil/rebellious son, the simple son and the son who doesn’t know how to ask. Choose four Brothers to represent these sons.
- The wise son could be represented by an executive board member.
- The evil/rebellious son could be someone in the chapter who is seen as the jokester and never takes things too seriously.
- The simple son could be a new member.
- The son who doesn’t know how to ask could be a chapter Brother that doesn’t know how to get involved in things inside and/or outside of the chapter.
Have fun in choosing these Brothers and enjoy your Passover Seder tonight. The Jewish people have been tested time and time again, so the situation we are in shouldn’t deter anyone from finding a way to celebrate together. Get creative, enjoy yourselves and don’t stress. Now, more than ever before, it’s important we come together and celebrate our heritage.
Chag Sameach Pesach, Brothers!
Visit AEPiConnect for more ways to connect and engage while studying or working from home.