As Jews worldwide prepare to welcome Passover 2020, we keenly feel its bittersweet resonance. With nearly half the world’s population in some type of quarantine, many of us will celebrate the Festival of Freedom separated from extended family, worried about ill loved ones, and concerned about our own physical, emotional and financial well-being.
Throughout our history, Jews have celebrated Passover even when facing conditions of duress and uncertainty. This year, we will hold scaled-back seders not in defiance of external threats, but in reverence for the sanctity of life. This year, our ultimate commandment is to protect ourselves and each other from sickness.
We are far from the first American Jews to sacrifice their usual Passover celebrations in service to our great country. Generations of Jewish men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces have celebrated meager yet meaningful seders while serving in wars overseas, with the benefit of just a box or two of matzah. As a widely shared meme recently observed, “Your grandparents were called to war. You were called to sit on your couch.”
While enduring this global health crisis isn’t actually as simple as being called to sit on our couches, tonight we are indeed commanded to recline. Tonight, may we sing “Next Year in Jerusalem,” while knowing that we fulfilled our obligations as Americans, as Jews, and as human beings. And may we enjoy renewed hope that next year we will be healthy and safe, gathered once again with our extended families and loved ones.
Chag Kasher v’Sameach