Seder plate/DepositPhoto

Jews Encouraged To Abandon Zoom Seders This Passover As Pandemic Eases

Jews Encouraged To Abandon Zoom Seders This Passover As Pandemic Eases

By Paige Taylor | Religion Unplugged

NEW YORK — As the pandemic eases, in-person gatherings are starting to pick back up just in time for Passover. Many people will gather with friends and family to have in-person Seders for the first time in two years.

Passover is a time for the Jewish community to reflect on the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Hosting a Seder is one way families and communities come together to celebrate this biblical event.

Virtual Seders — also known as “Zeders” — were all the rage at the height of the pandemic, where Jews around the world were forced to change their plans. Not this year.

Companies Ready To Help

As a result, two companies, OneTable and Haggadot.com, have partnered in an effort to help provide people with the tools they need to host their own unique Seder. The goal is to encourage young adults to host Seders and in the process build communities and conversation.

Passover this year begins at sundown on the evening of April 15. It concludes on April 23.

In 2021, OneTable helped individuals similarly, with 2,580 people taking part in Passover through the platform. This year, OneTable and Haggadot.com foresee 9,000 Seder participants through the partnership.

Shared Experience

Aliza Kline, president and CEO of OneTable, said Passover is one of the most shared experiences of the Jewish faith across the United States, and the loss of the ability to gather with others during the pandemic for Passover was overwhelming.

“Last year was still really modified for a lot of people,” Kline said. “It was not the normal experience. So, I think there’s a real kind of repair that might happen this year with people being able to go back and be with their friends and family.”

Kline said that is why it is so important to try and find ways to bring people together this year for Passover and Seder.

Seder Hosts

People who apply to be a Seder host through OneTable will receive up to $10 per guest, up to $100 total, and will have access to different online distributors for supplies they may need to help make their Seder a success. Hosts can use Haggadot.com to create a personalized Haggadah for themselves and their guests to use at their Seders. They can also invite guests directly from Haggadot.com.

“We do a lot to help people feel comfortable hosting — especially those who are ready to do it on their own, not necessarily going home to be with their parents and grandparents,” Kline said. “But, we sure want to encourage them to invite their parents and grandparents also and make it a multigenerational event.”

The partnership between OneTable and Haggadot.com creates the opportunity for a wide variety of people to be able to host their own Seder.

“I just love that image of, like, a sea of dinners happening in people’s homes and apartments and on the beach and just wherever they may be,” Kline said. “There will be just tons of people finding their people and being able to feel a sense of belonging in a Jewish setting.”

Time For Reflection

Passover is an ancient ritual that Kline said she hopes will encourage people to reflect on the growth that has happened in their lives since the last time they gathered with others.

“When you come back to a tradition, you can both kind of anchor yourself in time and also think about what’s different in my life since the last time we gathered,” Kline said. “I think we need rituals to help us do that — to kind of mark time, to be able to look back and then see where I am now and where do I want to go forward.”

OneTable will provide financial support for the first and second Seders on April 15 and 16. The first Seder falls on the same day as Shabbat. OneTable regularly helps individuals connect for this weekly Jewish ritual as well. Kline said she hopes individuals who host a Seder this year will also feel empowered to host weekly dinners for Shabbat.

“If you can host a Seder, you can definitely host your friends for Shabbat dinner,” Kline said. “You can be that person that brings together your friends and family. You have that power and potential.”

Young individuals interested in applying to be a host have until April 5 to apply at onetable.org/Passover.

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