Coronavirus sends Passover 2020 seders, celebrations online

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Passover begins tonight for Jewish people in Chicago and around the world., but the coronavirus outbreak has changed how the holiday is being observed.

How is this night different from all other nights?

That's one of the four questioned asked each year during Seder, but it takes on a whole new meaning during these difficult times. But Jews across Chicago are still finding ways to celebrate.

Rabbi Mordechi Gershon of Lubavich Chabad of Illinois deliver Seder meals to members in the South Loop.

"We have to improvise and make sure people are able to celebrate Passover in the best possible way for this situation," he said.

"Passover comes from passing over," said Dr. Paul Barach. "In many ways that's what we're trying to do, is make sure this plague, this modern plague, passes over us and doesn't affect us, our loved ones, our communities. This is required to do."

Rabbi Megan GoldMarche with Metro Chicago Hillel also distributed Seder meals. Her congregation caters mostly to younger Jews, and her home would usually host up to 80 people for Passover. Today, she boxed all those meals for people to come pick up and plans to hope an open Seder tonight for anyone who wants to join.

"I normally don't use technology on Shabbat. I'm a conservative rabbi," she said. "At least on the screen we will be seeing 35 to 40 different screens popping up, so that will make it feel less alone."

Video-conferenced Seders are popular this year, with many Jews using websites like One Table to create and register theirs. Joey Mogul and her sister are using Zoom to replace their usually large, boisterous celebration, which at the end of the day is about community.

"We can imagine the liberation from oppression, the liberation from this virus," Mogul said. "The liberation from small spaces and the liberation of our imaginations."

Next year, in person.

And for those who celebrate, Chag Sameach.
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