Passover and Easter share the common themes of redemption, resilience, freedom, and family.
To me, there couldn’t be any more inspiring holidays than these two during this time of pandemic and social distancing. Right now, the fear and uncertainty in the air is tangible and we can draw from these holidays for strength, encouragement, and hope.
In my home, we celebrate both Passover and Easter because I was raised in a very observant Jewish home and my life partner was raised in the Christian faith. Normally, our table is overflowing with friends and family, but this year we are reimagining our traditions into new, more private celebrations. Yes, there is a certain sadness to these changes, but being denied the opportunity to gather together is making us so much more aware of how precious we are to one another. We prefer to look at this as a time of quiet reflection, to grow closer and honor the deeper meanings behind these holidays.
The No Stress Seder
Passover is a time where we celebrate freedom, family, and the coming of Spring. I believe if my mother were alive during these turbulent times, she would be encouraging and comforting us all with her famous kugel and signature charoset, made with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, red wine, and a few dates for sweetness.
This year I will most definitely have the Seder plate on my table. The Seder plate is traditionally composed of the ceremonial foods around which the Seder is based: matzah, the zeroa (shankbone), egg, bitter herbs, charoset, and karpas (vegetable).
For some, this year’s Seder plate may take some creativity to fill, but replacements can be made that still get to the heart of each of the meanings. NuRoots has substitution ideas for every item on the Seder plate on their webpage that address the challenges of our current food supply situation. They even offer suggestions for vegans.
This is a year to keep our menus simple. With no outside company, there isn’t a need for a wide and varied menu – make whatever nourishes your body and soul. Consider gleaning new recipe ideas that fit what you have on hand from sites like kosher.com.
To feel more connected, consider having virtual guests in your home or join an online seder. I have seen several Rabbinical announcements that are considering video chat as kosher just for this Passover. And you can create your own Passover book to download and print for free on Haggadot.com, which can be emailed to others in advance of your video chat. I’m planning to bring Spring into my home with fresh flowers from the garden and I’m displaying them so those on my video chat can enjoy them as well.
If your family is spread out, consider hiding the afikoman virtually, playing a version of 20 questions via phone, email or video chat and having family members guess where it’s hidden. If you are willing to share your special recipes, consider emailing a special one to each member of the family to make while you are apart, to give them a taste of home.
Giving Easter Your Sunday Best
A friend with a wonderful sense of humor recently said to me, “I’ve never given so much up for Lent!” What a wonderful way to give purpose to all we are sacrificing in this time of social distancing. Easter’s themes of redemption, resurrection, and hope are so welcome during these trying times.
One of my favorite parts of Easter celebrations is seeing everyone dressed up in beautiful dresses that are the pastel colors of Spring – complete with hats and gloves! I do hope my social media friends and family will still dress up and share their pictures on their pages. It not only will brighten your spirits to dress up as if you were going to church, but also lifts the spirits of your family and friends to see it.
Churches have gotten creative this year – some have drive thru gift bags or food deliveries, while many are offering services online. Make this year memorable by getting up early to attend a traditional sunrise service snuggled up together at home, or simply watch the live stream of the church you regularly attend to feel connected to all those worshipping corporately at the same time.
If you have small children at home, one way to help them grasp the meaning behind Easter is to hide plastic Easter eggs or gifts with different objects inside or pictures that symbolize the Easter tradition. Once they’re all found, you can tell them the story through the meaning behind each one. And remember that even older children enjoy a good scavenger hunt, so you could make them challenging to find with clues you give to their location. If you are missing your children or grandchildren and want to do an activity with them, do a virtual egg hunt and set brightly colored plastic eggs around your home or yard, then do a video chat or take a panoramic photo to email them and see how many they can find.
Unlike Passover, there are no guidelines for Easter dinner, so it can be as elaborate and traditional or simple and easy as you’d like. If family lives nearby, consider making your signature dish and dropping it off on their porch ready to cook a few days in advance so they can have the comforts of home while you’re all apart. If they live further, share family favorite recipes in an email and have them FaceTime you on Easter so you can feel included in their celebration.
It is my sincere hope that no one feels alone for the holidays this year. Reach out in my Fat Flush Nation or Radical Metabolism Facebook groups and we will be there with open arms to greet you. And please feel free to share your Fat Flush friendly or Radical celebrations with us, too. I’d love to see what you all have cooking!