Growing up, Passover was my favorite holiday. Not because I loved matzo pizza or bringing matzo with cream cheese sandwiches for school lunch—I, in fact, did NOT enjoy that part—but because we had a yearly Seder tradition.
In fact, Passover was probably the only holiday for which we had a true tradition–we went to the same place, with the same people, ate the same food, and sang the same songs every year. There was never a question of whether we were going to this particular Seder, only which day we were going.
That all stopped in 2020 when everyone experienced Seders only with the people in their household, and perhaps saw loved ones virtually. For my family, Passover 2020 was a virtual gathering of three or four households. We briefly read through the Megillah, sang a couple of songs, and everyone enjoyed their own meals.
Passover 2021 had a different feel to it. It was almost somber in a way; the hype from quarantine had died down and loneliness mixed with frustration kicked in. Since we were all still working from home and not exposing ourselves to others, we decided to have a small seder with just our immediate family. While not ideal, Passover 2021 did create a potential for new tradition in that my husband and I hosted for the first time.
Passover 2022, we were hopeful that our previous tradition would be able to continue, since the world looked like it was getting back on its feet, but there was still too much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and various new strains. Instead, we hosted immediate family again; everyone took a COVID test prior, and anyone who was more likely to be exposed to illness, due to occupation, sat outside.
This was quite humorous as we were technically altogether, but one person had their own little table set up, looking into the dining room through a sliding glass door. The difference between Passover ’21 and ’22 was that we were all looking forward to something familiar, as opposed to being saddened from missing our old tradition.
So what will Passover ’23 bring? This year, it falls April 5-April 13.
In all honesty, I do not know yet.
Perhaps we will host again, but it is also possible that someone else will decide to host us instead. Interestingly, people I spoke to had similar remarks. Some of them assumed a family member who previously hosted would do so again; others were not quite ready to commit to plans yet, and others seemed to have multiple options to sift through.
The pandemic changed many traditions. In some cases, traditions that went on hiatus were able to re-start once safe again. But it also left many in search of new traditions, perhaps feeling a bit lost even. There has been so much uncertainty over the last few years, I do not think enough time has passed for new traditions to be solidified quite yet. It still feels like the door is open for something new to swoop in.
What are your plans for Passover this year?
DR. JACQUELINE ROBERMAN-GLYN IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.