Dear Friends,
We are thinking of you during Passover. We know that many will be separated from family, friends and community this year and may not have the opportunity to participate in a seder virtually. We have put together some resources for looking at Passover through the lens of our challenging times. You are welcome to use them in whatever way is meaningful to you. Below we also include three Passover videos on YouTube that you may enjoy.
Resources for Passover 2020 have been curated by Katy Claussen
JFS Chai Notes Program Specialist

Kadesh, Urchatz...

The word seder means order. In times of disorder, knowing what comes next can bring a sense of calm. While we do not know what the next stage of this pandemic will bring, hopefully we can find some peace in the seder, in the order, of the Passover ritual. Below is an outline of the steps of the seder with some spiritual queries related to each one. Our hope is that they offer you an opportunity to see the rituals of the seder through a different lens. 

Kadesh: Blessing over the wine
How do you mark the start of sacred time? How do you sanctify what is holy?

Urchatz: Wash hands in preparation for eating parsley
What do you need to wash off and release at this time?  

Karpas: Eat parsley and other greens dipped in salt water
The Parsley represents spring and rebirth while the salt water symbolizes our tears as we leave Egypt. What is being renewed or rejuvenated in your own life? What are your tears now? How do you hold both hope and despair?

Yachatz: Break the middle matzah
In Tunisian custom, one states, “This is how God split the red sea” while breaking the middle matzah. What miracles have you seen in your lifetime? What miracles are you experiencing right now? What miracles do you pray and hope for?

Magid: Tell the story of Israel’s liberation
What is your own story of liberation this year? What are you being freed from? What are you freeing yourself from?

Rachtza: Wash hands in preparation for eating matzah
Handwashing, especially right now, is a very important mitzvah that helps keep everyone safer. What else are you doing to bring safety to yourself and your community right now? How does it feel to do these things?

Motzi Matza: Recite the blessing over matzah and eat matzah
What is your bread of affliction right now? What is your bread of freedom? How do you symbolize those things in your own life?

Maror: Eat bitter herbs
What is bitter tasting to you at this time? 

Korech: Combine matza, maror and haroset and eat together
Why is a sandwich made of the bread of affliction/redemption, bitter herbs and the sweetness of haroset so delicious?! What do you make of the combination of these ingredients?

Shulchan Orech: Partake in the meal
Many of us are quite hungry by the time we get to the meal because there are so many steps of the seder before we finally get to eat. What is it that you have been waiting to enjoy? What in your life has taken multiple steps to reach?

Tzafun: Conclude the meal by eating the afikomen
We play a game of hide and seek with the afikomen. What are the parts of yourself that you may be hiding? What parts of yourself have you found? What parts of yourself may you still be seeking?

Barech: Give gratitude for the meal
How do you give thanks for the resources that you have? How do you show gratitude?

Hallel: Sing psalms of praise
What is the song of your heart right now?

Nirtza: Conclude seder with the hope of “Next year in Jerusalem…”
What are your hopes for the year ahead? What redemption do you need? What redemption does our world need?  

Mah Nishtanah Halailah hazeh?

Why is this night so different from all other nights?  We ask that question every year at our family seders and this year the question takes on more meaning as we navigate our current reality. Just as our seder gives us four answers to that one question, we will focus today on 4 aspects of why this night is different from all other nights.  What else makes this night different?

Why is this Passover night different from all other nights? 
On this Passover night, unlike Passover nights in past years, we are separated from family, friends and community with whom we normally celebrate this holiday. We give thanks for the technology that has helped us stay connected to our loved ones, and we look forward to the day when we might be able to meet in person again.

Why is this Passover night different from all other nights? 
On this Passover night, we may not be able to take part in a seder and in the rituals of Passover. We may not have our own hagaddah or remember the words to the songs that we hear each year at Passover. In this time where access to groceries is challenged, we may not be able to eat the Passover foods that we typically eat. On this Passover night we are also aware that many families do not have adequate food at this time when schools are closed, when paychecks may not be coming in, when the global economy on all levels is suffering. On this Passover night, we do not take our meal for granted.

Why is this Passover night so different from all other nights?                                
On this Passover night, we are so very much in need of distinguishing time. When the daily markers of time have fallen away and it is hard to differentiate one day from the next, we can begin to lose track of time. As we head into Passover, let us remember that while Wednesday may feel just like any other day, on this Wednesday night when Passover begins, we enter sacred time. 

Why is this Passover night so different from all other nights?
On this Passover night, we are celebrating our liberation while also still feeling like we are slaves to the fear that is gripping our world and while we are still plagued by illness in our communities and grief in our hearts. And just as matzah is both the bread of affliction and the bread of freedom, we are asked this year to acknowledge our despair while also holding onto hope.  

The song Dayeinu is one of gratitude that God continues to provide miracles. In the song we say, “Even if God had only brought us out of Egypt and not brought us to the land of Israel, even that would have been enough.” If God had only brought us out of Egypt but not brought us to the land of Israel, we may very well have been wandering in the desert to this day.

Dayeinu acknowledges that even in the imperfection and the chaos of the world, there is still much to be grateful for. We do not yet know what the world will look like on the other side of this and right now there is much to be desired amidst the chaos and imperfection of our world, and yet there are still opportunities every day for gratitude. When the worst of it is over, may we still find a way to sing Dayeinu.  

It is usually Sukkot when we invite virtual guests into our sukkah to join us. This custom is called ushpizin and traditionally these guests that visit our sukkah are our forefathers and foremothers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Many families extend this custom to inviting loved ones who no longer walk this earth or who they are not able to celebrate with that year. Today, we encourage you to bring this custom to Passover. 

Many of us are not with the people with whom we typically celebrate Passover. We encourage you to think of who you would like to be with you and then imagine them beside you. What would they say to you? What would you say to them? Can you hear their voice in your mind? Can you see their face clearly? What would you be doing at each point of the seder? What foods would you be eating?  

We invite you to take a moment and use your five senses to imagine seders past and allow the joy and peace felt in those moments to bring you joy and peace this year as well.
Wishing you a Chag Sameach!
With wishes of health, well-being, love and peace
from your friends at Jewish Family Services, Greensboro Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Greensboro.

JFS Chai Notes is funded in part by the Carolina Foundation for Jewish Seniors.