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How to host a Passover Seder at Zoom

This year, people celebrating Passover may be faced with an addition to their seder tables: a laptop, tablet, or smartphone that they can use to connect with friends and family through a group video chat.

Passover is the eight-day Jewish festival that celebrates topics such as spring and freedom and focuses on telling the biblical story of the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The holiday is extremely social: it includes meeting friends and family over a religious meal called Seder, which is full of prayer, history, symbolic ritual and ̵

1; of course – good food.

But like so many other gatherings this spring, Passover will be different this year. Social distancing orders that have been put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, make being with people outside of your own home a Passover health risk.

In the Passover spirit, making optimal use of the time and resources you have in difficult circumstances – the main edible symbol of the holiday, a cracker-like bread called Matzah, stands for this – some Jews turn to another Subject of the need to celebrate the holiday this year: video conference.

"Many Jews in North America, Israel, and around the world are concerned with zoom and other platforms for Passover Seders," said Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, content director of the Jewish community ethics organization. "The Passover has evolved over the centuries, and its rituals, texts and core ideas have evolved very powerfully in this crisis."

A strict interpretation of Jewish law prohibits the use of electronics during some holidays, including Passover. However, not all Jews follow these customs. The leadership of the conservative branch of Judaism has said regarding streamed Seders that forbearance should be allowed in difficult times. (Despite the name, the Conservatives are campaigning for a more flexible interpretation of certain Jewish laws than groups like the Orthodox and Chabad, although they are stricter than liberal movements like the reform.) More religious Jews connect via video chat before the holiday actually begins begins. to.

"I have seen many people planning connections before Seder," said Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, Chabad.org's social media editor, who provides educational information about Judaism. "Use this time to get dressed for the vacation, practice the four questions, share family memories and stories. After the call is done, everyone can light the Christmas candles and prepare for the evening themselves."

If you are familiar with the use of technology during a seder, there are a few things you can do to not only make the seder run smoothly, but also make it uniquely meaningful and memorable. Mashable consulted with several Jewish guides and guides on how to do it.

"Our rituals and celebrations cannot be stopped by unfortunate circumstances," said Rabbi Rachel Grant-Meyer, Rabbi-in-Residence at HIAS, a non-profit organization for refugee aid and author of the. "We will always find a way to come together and keep our traditions alive, even if it is not exactly as we are used to."

Here is a guide on how to host or participate in a Seder via Zoom. [19659011] 1. Leadership planning

A lot of preparation is required from cooking to singing to recording and participating in a personal seder. A virtual is no exception. If you plan to "host" a seder, it is a good idea to make a pre-planning phone call with other stakeholders of the participants to work out some important details. These are:

  • Which video chat platform should you use? Zoom is assumed for the purposes of this article because it is affordable, allows a raster view of many participants, and is free and easy to use for participants. However, here are some other options, especially those with better privacy records.

  • Who will be the Seder leader? This is the person who will lead the sequence and discussion of the night.

  • Who Is Will David Ackerman, senior vice president of the JCC Association of North America, recommend that participants "hire someone other than the leader of the Seder to oversee Zoom"? David Ackerman, senior vice president of the JCC Association of North America. This way, one person can be responsible for technology and troubleshooting (and will need a zoom subscription if they expect it to take longer than 40 minutes) while the leader can focus on the actual content.

  • Which Haggada will you be? use and how will you distribute it? There are several online Haggadot that you can either send to the participants in advance or display as screen share via zoom. No matter which direction you go, make sure everyone has access to a copy.

  • How will you represent the content of a seder plate? To go through the full symbols of the Seder, all objects should be displayed. But not everyone has to have all IRL. Who will be responsible for what to "bring"?

  • How will you manage communication? Will everyone be muted, or will you allow people to intervene in any way (you could use the Zoom Hand Raise) "function)?

  • What is the scope of the Seder? Your Zoom Seder is may be abbreviated or different from the entire enchilada, a cover-to-cover seder that you normally do – or not. "It is important to define the purpose of your seder and then use it as a guide to find out what you will actually do, "said Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, director of content development at the Center for Jewish and Israeli Education at Hillel International." Your goal could be anything from family connection to reading from across the Haggadah for listening to certain sung songs. "Set your goals with other Seder guides and create your roadmap from there.

2. Plan for everyone

Soba Once you've made these important decisions, it's time to share them with all of your guests. Send an email in advance with the following details:

  • Details : Enter the date, time and login details. To ensure privacy, set a password and distribute it in advance.

  • Etiquette : Set expectations and a process for attending whether or not Zoom's hand-raising feature is used, that people are muted, and then muted when prompted or when you sign up for a good one Decide old chaos (this is not exactly recommended).

  • Agenda : Give people an overview of the purpose of the Seder and what it will include.

  • The Haggadah : Make sure people know how to get involved.

  • Assign Roles : If you can assign different guests to lead different parts of the Seder, this can help everyone to feel connected. "If possible, give each person a line or two to read for maximum participation, or mute everyone and encourage people to do their own blessing wherever they are," Rabbi Rachel Sabath suggests Beit Halachmi before.

  • Set a dress code : This can be an entertaining way to create a sense of occasion. "Make it as special as possible with no sweats or pajamas," said Rabbi Irving A. Elson, director of the JWB (Jewish Welfare Board). "Zooming or not, it's a sacred time."

  • Send a grocery list : Let people know what they should have on hand so they can participate in the rituals you chose.

  • Distribute all other resources : Set a custom background? Are you discussing certain articles?

3. Perform Technical Trial Run

The person responsible for Zoom should try to connect with each participant in advance to ensure that they are familiar with the platform. If everyone can try to log in at the same time to avoid technical difficulties at night, this is ideal. However, some people may also need individual help.

4. Speak to the elephant (laptop) in the room.

During a Passover, every object on the table has a symbolic, ritual or traditional meaning. The Jewish leaders who were consulted for this play did not all agree on how much emphasis should be placed on technology. But in the dialogical spirit of the Passover, it could be an effective way to address the reality of technology to start discussing the history of the Passover.

"The question that triggers the entire Seder is:" Why is this night different from everyone else? Said David Ackerman. Most people will have an answer to this question. The more interesting question is: "How does the inability to assemble personally for this year's Seder give us new insights into the essence of the Passover story?"

It could also serve as a moving lens to see the subjects of the night and various rituals.

"The whole idea of ​​Matzah is that we make something out of nothing – if our dough doesn't have time to rise, we strap it on our backs and eat it unleavened," Rabbi Rachel Grant -Meyer said: "In Similarly, I see the presence of a computer screen as an abundance of what could have looked like nothing. "

5. Keeping order

Try to stick to the "Mute" or "Not Mute" etiquette you have stated in the planning emails. Repeat expectations and make sure people are aware of how the night will go. Since video chats are a bit complicated with a night of discussion and music, Rabbi Schwartz recommends the following to keep everything going smoothly while singing porti ons of the night – Seder means "order" after all!

Singing together is one of the highlights of the Seder, but most video conferencing platforms have a good delay between speaking one person and hearing from the other participants, making singing together a challenge. Try to mute everyone except the song guide. This will give you the pleasure of singing as a group, but without the frustration of having everyone take a break.

On the other hand, there are also zoom choirs that flourish in our time of social distance, so that you can virtually sing together. If you raise your voices together to achieve orderly harmony, you should.

Here are some tips from Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi on how to keep people busy, but also how to do the Seder properly … enough.

Have a guide for every section, if not the whole. Assign roles to participants and unmute only those who speak, and unmute for cacophony – and hear the sounds of everyone at certain points, at the beginning and at the end.

6. Document

If the circumstances of this year's Seder appear exceptional, it is because they are. Designate a person to take screenshots, take notes, or write memories of the night.

"This is a moment we will never forget," says Jason Leivenberg, director of NuRoots, who focuses on creating community for Jews in their 20s and 30s with the Jewish Federation of Great Los Angeles, said. "Given what the vacation is asking us to do, and how will we document it for generations?"

7. Be patient and let it be.

Many memorable Seders contain an element of chaos. And with a big change this year, it will help everyone make the most of their time if they accept that the evening contains bumps on the road or feels different.

"There has to be a layer, a level with which you can be patient." each other during the actual dinner, "said Leivenberg." I think the sooner we can prepare ourselves for the fact that it will simply change, the more fun we can have and the more we can actually take it seriously. "

8 Turn to the future

Passover Seder ends with the chorus "Next year in Jerusalem." As we all make sacrifices to smooth the curve and fight the coronavirus, many Jewish leaders at Seder said this year , we could also include hope for "next year personally."

We can also consider the ability of Jews to collect themselves – albeit from a distance – shows us our past and our future at this time. [19659002] "Basically, the story of Passover is about the journey from slavery to freedom, from difficult circumstances to a better future," said Rabbi Schwartz telling each period of our history. In times of abundance and freedom, the Seder has helped orient us towards the needs of others, while in difficult times the Seder has grounded us in the hope that it will be so. "In this Year, the spread of virtual seders can not only connect us with those who are isolated, but also provide a hopeful reminder that we too are on the way to freedom. "

Amen addition and Happy Passover.

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