All people who are still in Middelburg, including me, might find themselves not being able to go back to visit their family. For others, this means missing out on Easter breakfasts, or maybe looking for the Easter eggs, after painting them with your family. For me, because I am Jewish, this means missing Passover, or how I usually call it: Pesach. I usually celebrate Pesach with my mother, brother, grandma and whoever else wants to join. For our family, it does not matter who wants to join, everyone is welcome: whether you are a liberal Jew, orthodox Jew or not Jewish at all.
This year, I was not able to join my family to celebrate our lovely traditions and us being together to enjoy each other’s company. However, that COVID-19 has separated me from my loved ones physically, does not mean that we have to be far away mentally. My mother vented the idea to do a Passover Seder over Zoom, with my matzos (Pesach crackers) by my side. Since recently, Zoom is being used by professors to give online classes, but on Thursday, which is the second Seder day, it is for Passover with my family.
We try to do the usual rituals, but while improvising. Reading and singing the Haggadah (the Passover prayers) together, while pictures of the text are being shared online. Noteworthy is that it is more clear who is singing out of tune and who is not when you are doing it with a microphone. We also ate the essential matzos together, all while being scattered around the Netherlands, it still made us feel as an unity.
First it was just my mother, her partner, and me, but later my brother and his girlfriend joined too. Besides celebrating Passover together, it gave me joy to see their faces again and being able to crack jokes like you can only do with your family when you actually talk to them, instead of texting them. While my brother and mother had wine available, I drank just water, which is just one of many examples of how we improvised. Another ritual involves opening the door, but since the doors inside Bagijnhof houses immediately close, I decided to open my window, because for me personally, it is the gesture that counts.
I like to wish everybody reading this a happy Easter and Passover, and please stay healthy and happy, even if days like these can make you feel lonely: try to think of modern solutions for modern times, even if the traditions are age-old.