with covid-19, still an issue, passover celebrations in 2021, have taken on a new dynamic. with many areas of the world still practicing social distancing and prohibiting outdoor dining, celebrations such as the seder, a family, friend and stranger event, has health challenges.
the seder tradition, which has been practiced for over a thousand years, is the re-telling of the story of how delivered the jewish people from their bondage in egypt.
part of the re-telling involves the ten plagues that were placed upon egypt. traditionally, a drop of wine is spilled to symbolize each plague.
most poignant to the covid-19 experience was the last plague, the death of the first born. as noted in exodus 12:22, “and you shall take a bunch of hyssop and immerse [it] in the blood that is in the basin, and you shall extend to the lintel and to the two doorposts the blood that is in the basin, and you shall not go out, any man from the entrance of his house until morning. the lord will pass to smite the egyptians, and he will see the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, and the lord will pass over the entrance, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to smite [you]. and you shall keep this matter as a statute for you and for your children forever.” the seder has been considered as an in door celebration in the spirit of the fact that the homes were passed over with respect to the plague.
thus, we have an irony. in order to address pandemic safety, those who wishing to have seders this year may be moving them an outdoor setting.
this non-traditional approach of “out door” dining, however, is an accord with another exodus related holiday, sukkot. sukkot, in part, celebrates, post exodus 40 year wandering of the jews. sukkot is celebrated by spending time, including meals, in a temporary structure, a sukkah. a sukkah is tent-like and perfect setting for outdoor dining. it was designed, in part, for that purpose. thus. those seeking to do an outdoor seder celebration may be putting up a sukkah to do so.
thus, in this time of innovation due to the pandemic, one religious holiday can serve as a solution for another.