Passover Under Quarantine: How We Got Creative with Our Seder

Monday, April 20, 2020

I work for a Jewish organization & very much identify with my Judaism, but I am not always what you might call a "practicing Jew." I don't belong to a synagogue, I don't observe all the holidays, I rarely observe Shabbat. I've always eaten bacon, & I rarely fast when it comes time for the holidays that call for it.

But I love Mike's & my annual tradition of holding a small Passover seder at home, just the two of us. I love the seder plate he bought me a few years ago. I love remembering the time we ended up going out for Thai food because I couldn't scrap together a Passover dinner. I love trying.

This year, I felt like I needed Passover more than ever – so even though it was, in fact, more difficult than ever to observe it, I knew I wanted to. I couldn't go out to acquire most of the items the holiday requires... so I knew I had to get creative.

We didn't have quick-burning Shabbat candles, but we did have a few leftover Hanukkah candles, so I squished two of them into little balls of clay to make them stand upright, & we lit those at the start of our seder.

We were all out of red wine, but I'd recently ordered a deliver of boozy pear-pomegranate seltzer, so that's what went into Elijah's Cup.

I couldn't find boxed matzah anywhere online, so I made my own using a recipe I found online.

I didn't have horseradish, either, but I did have horseradish sauce, so I squeezed a little bit of that onto the seder plate. 

I didn't have parsley, either, but the seder plate calls for karpas, which just means "green vegetable," not specifically parsley, so I cut up the stem of a daffodil & put that on the plate, too. (Don't worry, we didn't eat it.)

And although I never have a shankbone to put on my seder plate, I usually buy a beet instead, the standard vegan/vegetarian replacement. This year, I couldn't get to the store to buy one, so I crafted my own shankbone out of colored Sculpey clay – & now I'll have a shankbone of sorts for years to come.

Finally, I usually buy a fresh bouquet from Trader Joe's to go on our Passover table - but that wasn't an option this year.

Instead, I ran over to St. Theodosius Orthodox Church & found daffodils growing near their parking lot, around the back. None of their congregants would ever see them, anyway, so I picked a bunch & quite honestly? They made me so freaking happy.

..but then I sent the church a check as a small token of thanks because I felt guilty about stealing flowers from a church for a Passover seder.

Our Haggadah, the guide to the seder, came from a Jewish holiday subscription box called Days United, which I'd initially been really excited about, but it turned out to be incredibly confusing & riddled with typos that made us laugh & roll our eyes.

We didn't sing "Dayenu"; we didn't sing anything, actually. We didn't hide the afikomen. We didn't even say all the prayers.

Instead of something more traditional, like brisket, I made risotto-style quinoa. The Passover meal is supposed to come near the end of the seder, but we had to eat dinner first because the quinoa was meant to be served hot.

Technically, if you asked the ancient Jewish sages, or something, I guess we did Passover wrong. Judaism is a religion of rules & rituals, history & have-tos, but we didn't do or follow everything we were supposed to do. We couldn't.

You know what, though? We did it anyway. We decided to celebrate by any means necessary – even & especially when it means getting creative with it.

At the end of Passover, we usually say "Next year in Jerusalem." But as my friend Dov wrote on Instagram...


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