Scrolling through Facebook on the first night of Passover, users likely saw comments from friends lamenting “the smallest Pesach table” they’ve ever set or “Happy Passover! We’re making the best of it.” The coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) has required social distancing and self-isolation that prevents gatherings of anyone outside of immediate households, which means no gatherings for Passover or this weekend’s Easter festivities.
In response, many celebrants are planning virtual Passover seders and Easter Sunday gatherings as safe alternatives under difficult circumstances.
OneTable Helps People Around The World Plan Their Virtual Seder Dinners
OneTable is a nonprofit organization committed to helping Millennials reconnect with the Jewish tradition of unplugging and enjoying Friday Shabbat dinner in whatever way suits their life situations. As of fall 2019, the five-year old startup had more than 100,000 unique participants, and this year’s Passover presented an unusual opportunity for the brand to be there for Jewish people looking for ways to connect. While OneTable typically hosts in-person Shabbat dinners in more than a dozen cities, the organization quickly pivoted to hosting virtual dinners in light of the social distancing required by the coronavirus pandemic.
OneTable has already booked more than 300 virtual seders, created a guide to Passover 2020 and launched a companion website, Seder 2020, to help walk people through virtual seders. And, considering possible matzo shortages this year, the brand is even hosting DIY matzo classes. By leaning into the world’s new reality, OneTable has been able to offer connection to their users during an unprecedented time for celebrating.
Technology Can Help People Host Virtual Easter Egg Hunts
Like the Passover seder, Easter dinner and Easter egg hunts are annual traditions that will be different this year because of social distancing. Fortunately, technology provides ways to make Easter traditions feel a little more like they usually do, even if families can’t be together. Businesses and families all over the world have turned to facetime and video-conferencing to stay connected during quarantine, and those same services can be used for virtual Easter egg hunts. The chat hosts act as guides for kids as they search for the hidden eggs, shouting out when they see one appear on their screens. Inviting kids to dress up for the special occasion and sending invites over Evite or Paperless Post can make the day feel more special. A dry run, making sure family members know how to use the necessary technology, a few days prior to the event is recommended.
Many cities are also stepping up and offering virtual Easter activities. Irving, TX is hosting an online Easter egg hunt and church services, while local businesses are selling ready-made Easter meals and Easter egg dying kits. Several towns will also have the Easter Bunny riding around on fire engines this weekend, waving to families and bringing Easter joy from a safe distance.
Restaurants And Gourmet Food Purveyors Offer Complete Meals For Passover And Easter
Although some people are still going to grocery stores, many prefer to only order their meals and provisions online, and many restaurants and gourmet food companies are offering pre-assembled Easter and Passover meals. Among them, Eli’s Market, a New York City institution, is creating seder dinner packages for two or four in recognition of the smaller holidays most people are having. And other local restaurants around the country are offering similar options, like Luke’s in Orlando, Florida which has created full six- to eight-person prepared meals for Easter dinner. Passover kits, including many of the essentials for the Passover plate, can also be purchased on Chabad.org and ohnuts.com. In the UK, Chabad has partnered with food-delivery app Deliveroo to distribute their “Seder-to-Go” kits, particularly for the “vulnerable and isolated.”
Many businesses and restaurants are struggling right now, but offering comfort to consumers by providing a (virtual) gathering place or holiday meal delivery during a time when they may be missing their usual traditions and family members is good business and a welcome kindness.
“Ritual grounds us,” said Aliza Kline, CEO of OneTable. “It connects us to something much bigger than ourselves. That humility can be a tremendous blessing, especially in such a frightening time as this. What’s amazing about the annual seder or weekly Shabbat service or Sunday church service or the Ramadan celebration is that we’re doing it together, and we yield to the ritual. When religion is at its best, that’s what it does: it brings us together.”
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