מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלטלות
Why is this night different from all the other nights?
With this question, usually posed by the youngest person at the table, we have traditionally begun our Passover seders for generations upon generations. This year, as we enter the 2nd year of the Corona pandemic, perhaps more of us are asking, “Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers?”. Perhaps, with that in mind, this year’s Passover Guide is a little different from past guides and affords us an opportunity to reflect on the past year.
This has been a challenging year and many of us have spent more time alone and lonelier than ever before. Many of us are remembering the 500,000 plus Americans who have been killed by the virus and recall with sadness the members of our congregation who succumbed to the disease.
As we are preparing for the 2nd Passover in the time of Covid, we are questioning if we should have a seder alone or join with others for the holiday? We ask ourselves with whom do we feel safe and comfortable? We wonder if we should just stay home and have a “seder for one”? If we are lucky enough to be able to celebrate with immediate family or friends, we ponder whether it is really safe even if everyone has been vaccinated?
The truth is that Passover is a time to remember our past, to reflect on our present, and to thank God for all that God has done for us. There may be those who feel it is impossible to praise God during these times, but the truth is most of us have a lot for which to give thanks. A well known Rabbi always admonishes us that we need to focus on all that we have and all the blessings we have received and not to focus or to waste energy on what we do not have. Reb Nachman of Breslov famously reminded us, "It is a great Mitzvah to always be happy". We need always to seek to find joy and happiness in life and to find ways to thank God for all our blessings.
We need to be thankful to God for the many friends and family who have helped each and every one of us, who have called us and reached out to us with a helping hand and a caring ear since the outbreak of the pandemic.
We need to be thankful to God for the CSFA community and all it has done to hold us together and keep us connected so that we can return to our synagogue with joy and celebration when it is safe to do so.
We need to be thankful to God for the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, hospitals, first responders, etc. who, at great personal risk, continue to provide health care and guidance for all of us.
We need to be thankful to God for the scientists and researchers who have developed the vaccines to help us fight this disease and which will enable us to return to “normal”.
We need to be thankful to God who redeemed us from slavery in Egypt, led us to freedom, gave us the Torah, established the State of Israel, and as we say at the close of the Passover Kiddush, who has kept us in live, sustained us, and brought us safely to this time.
It is now incumbent upon us to look to the future with hope – תקוה – and faith אמונה - and a genuine commitment to a better future.
With best wishes for a Sweet and Kosher Pesach, and may we all be blessed to celebrate Pesach together next year in good health and happiness.