Passover celebrations, Seder dinners go virtual this year

Posted at 1:55 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 19:54:37-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - This week and weekend mark several big religious celebrations and gatherings: Easter and Passover.

"It is very different not having family and friends together, but in some ways this will allow us to gather even more than usual," said Cantor Jen Rueben of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk.

For the first time ever, Mindy Katz, a Virginia Beach resident, hosted what many are calling a "Zeder" - or Zoom Seder dinner - to mark the first night of Passover.

"We have been gathering since I was a kid. No matter where we were, there was a celebration. This year it was supposed to be in Alexandria," said Katz.

However, this year she and her family had to stay at home due to the coronavirus.

"What was missing was the hugs and personal connections," said Katz.

The eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover began Wednesday night. The first night's ritual meal, known as Seder, typically brings together extended family and friends. But this year, coming together meant logging on.

"My 92-year-old mother was on Zoom - how cool was that?" said Katz. "While it was different, the purpose was to bring people together, and it totally succeeded."

Ohef Sholom Temple would have hosted a huge catered dinner Thursday night.

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"Normally we have several hundred people, and it's a huge community gathering we always look forward to," said Cantor Rueben.

But this year, the congregation will keep traditions alive by connecting 200 families together on their computers. You can join, too, on the temple's Facebook page.

"We are really celebrating a story of overcoming hardship and resilience, and this is what we are demonstrating this year," said Cantor Rueben. "One of the stories we tell is of the 10 plagues, and we really feel like we are living through the 11th plague this year."

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