Virtual Seders: More Traditional Than You Might Think








By Camila Sobral

*The newest member of the JFS staff shares how her family celebrates during coronavirus social distancing

My family, like many Jewish families around the world, is celebrating Passover through Zoom. Even before the pandemic, my family couldn’t celebrate together because we all live on different continents in Brazil, Israel, Australia, and California. Finding an “appropriate” time to celebrate that worked for everyone was nearly impossible. While we eventually agreed on a time, the result was my poor sister in Australia preparing her Seder plate at 6am. My aunt in Israel waited well into the night. 

Our Zoom call was the first time we came together since the gravity of coronavirus became apparent across the globe. It was exciting to see everyone and experience a kind of communal, though virtual, reunion. While most families turn away from digital screens during the holidays, so that they can connect with loved ones in real life, this is an unprecedented time. Access to digital communication is a life saver in these moments. But not knowing when we would all be able to physically be together again made it somewhat sad. 

We prayed and blessed each other. We sang the Shehecheyanu, a prayer spoken when celebrating an important holiday, to thank G*d for bringing us together for a special moment, to express our gratitude for being able to come together. We made a great attempt at a very unusual Seder, which is what I find so beautiful about Jewish tradition and culture. Our continued trial to place ritual and communion at the center of a life in a world that is constantly changing, even when it is scary and confusing and you’re up at 6am eating bitter herbs! I think about my ancestors practicing their rituals in hiding or my ancestors running for freedom, all while maintaining their rituals and traditions. Judaism is a practice of adaptation and resilience – and what a time to be meditating on those two words. 


Seder Times:

5pm Sao Paulo

6am Melbourne 

11pm Tel Aviv

1pm Los Angeles

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