Virtual Passover Seder Experience

By Robin Schmuckal

Liz and I had a wonderful experience at the Virtual Passover Seder on Sunday, March 13, led by Bernie Newman, from Congregation Beth Shalom. He is a vibrant speaker and excellent educator. It was a great spiritual and learning experience. 

We found out that Passover is the most celebrated of all Jewish holidays with more than 70% of Jewish Americans taking part in a Seder, its ritual meal. Passover is when Jewish people celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery by retelling the story of Exodus at a Seder. 

The event included lots of eating and singing, and we learned to appreciate the symbolism of the food: Maror (bitter herbs - horseradish), Chazeret (bitter roots - romaine lettuce), Charoset (sweet and nutty paste), Karpas (vegetable dipped in salt water), Zeroa (roast lamb or sheep), grape juice, and matzah. 
Most of all, the experience was fun. Bernie told stories; children and adults read passages. There were games for families, like hiding and searching for the afikomen (matzah). We sang in both English and Hebrew. 

It was moving for me to also hear readings in both English and Hebrew. I think Passover and the Seder meal is an important part of our Christian heritage. Passover is the prelude to the exodus. It reminds us that the Lord saved us from slavery. Bernie discussed how this is always relevant to current conditions. Jill and Chamus did a great job sending everyone setup materials. Our preparation was easy and flexible. Because it was a Zoom call, my daughter from Iowa was able to virtually join us. She was also glad she attended. 

Bernie closed the Seder with the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem,” and also added the very fitting “Next year without Zoom.”  I look forward to in-person gatherings at Grace in the future.