What do Jews do when a real plague strikes during Passover — particularly a pandemic like COVID-19, which forces families, friends and religious communities to physically isolate from one another? For some, it means taking Pesach online for Zoom seders. For others, it means hunkering down for an intimate — even solitary — affair, making do with whatever food is around the house and whatever Haggadah is available online.
However makeshift seders may be this year, one thing is certain: Passover is a holiday remembering a time of great despair leading toward redemption, and this could be one of those times. Here are a few ways that Denver Jews will be marking the holiday from sunset April 8 through nightfall April 16:
Rabbi Yaakov Chaitovsky, of the Orthodox congregation BMH-BJ, has forbidden members from participating in social gatherings, and in turn is offering a variety of educational videos and interactive experiences over Zoom; through the synagogue's website; in a weekly Touch Points newsletter; and more. He even offers tips for how people can connect with family near and far while keeping within the law — both the state's and God's.
The Reconstructionist congregation B'nai Havurah will host a virtual social-justice-themed first-night seder led by Rabbi Evette Lutman and Shari Abramowitz at 6:30 p.m. on April 8 and a second night Dancing in the Desert seder at 6:30 p.m. April 9 led by Rabbi Lutman and musicians Hal Aqua and Zoe Aqua. For more information, go to the B'nai Havurah website.
Hebrew Educational Alliance
You don't need to wait until next year in Jerusalem. If you're looking for a seder to attend, the Hebrew Educational Alliance has you covered. The congregation's rabbis will be hosting a first- and second-night seder online. There is also a young-family first-night seder and services on the first, second, seventh and eighth days.
Judaism Your Way
Known for massive gatherings at the Denver Botanic Gardens that bring in thousands of Jews, friends and family for the High Holy Days, Judaism Your Way will be hosting virtual seders on the first and eighth nights of Passover.
PJ Library's Virtual Passover LEGO Challenge
For kids looking to have some seasonal fun with LEGOs, PJ Library is hosting a Virtual Passover LEGO Challenge from April 7 to April 15. Build as many Passover pieces out of LEGOs as you can, and post the results to the JEWISHColorado PJ Library page on Facebook.
Reform congregation Temple Emanuel is working to meet your virtual Passover needs. From a first-night seder to daytime and Shabbat services, family experiences, Torah study and more, you can mark the Exodus in various ways, at various times, all from the comfort of your home. Just go to Emanuel's Facebook page.
Temple Micah offers a variety of virtual options and digital resources. Host or participate in an online seder; explore digital content, from videos and songbooks to recipes, to help make your solo or small seder feel meaningful. There are even tips for the technologically impaired.
If you're looking for a guide to throwing your own seder, rabbis Rick and Susan Rheins have put together an online video that walks you through the basics, from preparing your house to blessing family and friends.
What other Passover resources in Denver should be included in this list? Let us know at [email protected]