YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE A SH’VACH* SEDER (*—weak, pathetic)”
You do not need to set up a multi-media, multi-layered presentation on Zoom. You do not need to cook 17 dishes that remind you of all the family members you are not gathering with. You do not need to do all the cool things that people are suggesting for small seders. You do not need to go out on your mirpeset/porch at 11 pm and sing Chag Gadya with your neighbors. You do not need to compile an “in these times”-themed haggadah or seder supplement.
You are living through an international pandemic. For all of the support you have, for all of the jokes people are making, for all of the new Torah that is being learned…you are experiencing a collective trauma as an individual, within the daled amot/delimited space of your own home and your own life. You may be managing others’ experience of that trauma. You are dealing with challenges you have never faced before. You may feel scared, angry, depressed, or lost.
If you want to and can do any of the above for a maximalist seder night, great. But if you don’t want to and/or can’t, it is totally fine to cook a modest meal, throw together a seder plate at the last minute, get up to make salt water when it’s time for karpas because you forgot to do it before, make decisions on the fly about how much to talk about each step of the seder and what to read and not to read.
Light the candles. Bless the wine/grape juice and the holiday. Eat the symbols. Be together. Talk about some things. Read some things. Be energized, or be tired. Do things you never did before because “what an opportunity to have an intimate seder”, or do the minimum. Go to sleep knowing you have fulfilled your obligation.
You do not need to make up for the seder you are not having, or the seder you wish you could have. Do this year’s seder(s) however that works for you this year. Do your best to keep yourself and your family healthy. Connect to the themes of Passover—getting out of narrow places, celebrating life, gratitude, remembering our obligations to each other and to all others.
Dayeinu. That is more than enough.
– Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick