What I’m supposed to do. What I’m supposed to cook. The “Zoom Seder” I’m supposed to host, with my 3 and 7-year-old children joyously and perfectly in attendance, singing “Dayenu” and the Four Questions like they were born for that shit.
The brisket and potatoes and salad and salmon and gefilte fish and homemade matzo (because yes, now that’s a thing too – look, it’s so easy, no need to go to the grocery store and expose yourself to COVID-19!) and charoset and this and that and are you f—ing kidding me? These days, I’m proud of myself for throwing together all the leftovers in our fridge and on the counter – steak and noodles and red sauce and cornbread and the bread with peanut butter from snack time – and making the kids some broccoli too and calling that dinner. And yes, that was a dinner this week, and we all got through it. And it wasn’t half bad, really.
In this time of insane COVID-19 disruption and trauma and stress and anxiety and the complete upending of the global economy and education system, and social and community structure, I’m seeing Facebook posts from celebrities and normal folks about how this is a great time to learn a new skill, or write a book (!!!). A book? I’m proud of myself for sitting down to write this blog post! And even that didn’t happen until 11:52 p.m. the night before it was due to TC Jewfolk.
But I had to write this and Get. This. Off. My. Chest.
Back off, Passover shamers.
Most of you don’t even know you’re doing it. You’re so sweet and good and helpful.
“Here’s how we’re bringing together 30 adults and children for a seder on Zoom peppered with songs, and teachings, and blessings, and perfectly timed identical food served in 10 different households, prepared by 8 different bubbies and mommies, who passed around the dishes the hours before the holiday started.”
I just don’t even know where to start with that.
Who has the time to cook all those dishes? And should we even be grocery shopping for that much food? And where will you put it? And do you have a job out of the home? Do you work full-time? Do you have young kids?
And while you’re working, are you simultaneously responding to “mommy, I need help” for the millionth time with the digital math/reading/writing/geography/Spanish/music education that we’re now managing since there is no formal school?
Or “mommy, they muted me,” from a super disappointed three-year-old who can wield his Zoom lesson from school better than most adults, but doesn’t understand why oh why his teachers would want to mute all the adorably whining and chatting 3 and 4-year-olds before singing “what’s the weather, what’s the weather” in your living room which also doubles as your and your partner’s office? Or better, “mommy, will you wipe my tush?” Or “get me a snack?” Or “where are we hiking for recess today?” because on top of education your kids will go crazy if they don’t run their giggles out somewhere in the woods where we can practice #socialdistancing?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Passover. It’s my favorite holiday, and not just because my family makes delicious food. But because I love all the generations around one table and the friends who join us. And the chaos of all the kids together. The magic trick where my dad (aka Pharoah) makes water turn into blood and the kids go wild. The silly songs and theatrical renditions of the stories. The once around the table saying what we are thankful for, and which of the characters in the Passover story we want to emulate this year.
I’m grateful for those moments. But this year I’m putting my foot down.
Nothing I’m going to be able to pull off in my 1,500 sq. ft. home aka office aka school is going to resemble that normal, awesome family Seder. So I’m not going to try.
And you shouldn’t either. My advice? Should you want it, of course.
Pick your favorite parts of the Passover meal. The ones that are easy and don’t take too long and taste good to most everyone in your immediate family. The food you already have in your freezer/fridge pantry. The ones you can improvise with and not go to a grocery store. I’m making Matzo Ball soup with soup chicken and charoset and salad and likely broccoli (since it’s the only vege my kids love).
Pick your favorite parts of the Passover ritual. The ones that make sense for your immediate family. The prayers or songs you like the most. The teachings that make you laugh. The story (duh) which can also be told through the movie “Prince of Egypt” or TV show “Rugrats Passover” in the days before/after the Seder (or during your Seder dinner, no judgment).
If you choose to Zoom, Zoom small. Don’t try to Zoom the whole seder with young kids or a lot of old people who will have a hard time figuring out the Zoom (love to all the Bubbies and Zaydies but let’s be realistic here). Let the Zoom be a bonus feature. We are going to Zoom (or FaceTime) the Four Questions so all the kids can sing it together. That’s probably it. And that’s OK.
And then drink those four glasses of wine and pat yourself on the back.
And say “Next Year in Jerusalem” (as the Passover seder always says) but much, much more importantly, “Next Year Together, in Health.” L’Chaim.
Leora Maccabee is a Partner at Maslon LLP, the Founder of Jewfolk and TCJewfolk.com. She lives in Golden Valley with her two young kids and her fiancé.