Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Twas The Hour Before Seder

Ready for Seder a deux
Pesach starts in just under one hour. The Seder Night, tonight  in Israel and tonight and tomorrow night outside of Israel, is ironically going to be all topsy turvy for us. Ironic because the word means 'order' alluding to the specific order of doing things. You can read about it here. 

Before I get into tonight's seder, I want to answer my question from yesterday. Is it possible to spring clean my whole home in one day? The answer is no. Two days? Possibly when I was 25 but not now. By half way through the second day (today) Hurricane Pesach Cleaning was degraded to Random Friday in April Cleaning. There are things which didn't get done. Does it bother me? Yes, a bit, but now that I'm almost there I will do those things over the next week. Three days and I would have nailed it. 

Now for this evening's programme. At 18.45 my building is doing the evening service from their balconies. Then everyone will go inside and start their own seder (but not us). At 20.30 all the neighbours are coming out onto the balconies to sing Ma Nishtana together (see below). That concludes the communal part of the seder at this end. 

Ma Nishtana means 'what's different?' Traditionally the youngest present sings the song comprising of four questions about the evening, each starting with the refrain: Why is this night different from all other nights? The next part of the seder is answering the questions. This year everything is so different I think it's fitting for us all to sing it together. 

Our seder is starting very late at 22.30 because we are zooming it with my family in London where it will be only 20.30. My B-i-l, a doctor at Northwick Park Hospital, is working 12 hour shifts and can't guarantee to be ready any earlier. 

The 10 - 12 of us, depending on who's going zooming where, will be in five different homes this year. So DD and I will probably eat our festive meal before it starts instead of in the middle as usual. We'll go and amuse ourselves during the 'intermission' and come back for the songs at the end. 

It's been pointed out that this year is the closest seder to the original seder night in Egypt the night before the exodus. On that night the Israelites were told to stay indoors while the final plague was wrought upon the Egyptians. In fact, the whole of Israel is on real lockdown tonight. From last night we weren't allowed to leave our neighbourhoods and tonight we aren't allowed to leave our homes. It's to stop people visiting each other for the seder. We won't be daubing our doorpost with the blood of a pascal lamb though. 

For those not as lucky as I am to be able to zoom with family tonight, there are full seders on tv and other streaming platforms. 

So that's it. Thoroughly surreal and, in a way, interesting. I wish all those celebrating tonight a happy and safe Pesach. Chag Sameach! 


  1. I hope that you, DD and your family manage to have a wonderful Seder together - even if only virtually. I was speaking with a friend today - she happens to be Catholic but has a number of Jewish friends who always invite her so she is missing seeing them tonight and missing the Seder for the first time in years. She was interested to hear that the rabbi was allowing people to use Zoom this year.
    We have been told over and over not to go to dinner with family for Passover or Easter. We aren't quite as locked down as you (although pretty restricted) but I have a feeling that there will be a lot more patrols out checking on things. I was going to host Easter dinner this year but it will have to wait. Hope everything goes well.

    1. It was an experience and of course I'll write about it later. The one amazing thing was that it wasn't just my neighbours who sang Ma Nishtana together, it was the whole of Israel! We could hear it from all over the city. Very emotional. I'm sorry about your Easter plans. It certainly is a strange year. Take care xxx

  2. So special when something makes us realise that we are isolated but all part of it together. Hearing the prayers sang all over your city is like us clapping outside every Thursday at 8pm to say thank you to all NHS,careers and key workers. We can hear it all around us too.
    Chag Sameach x