Seder in place: How to celebrate Passover during coronavirus

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Everything is different with novel coronavirus, including traditions that are thousands of years old. As Jews from around the San Francisco Bay Area prepare to celebrate Passover, they're figuring out how to gather for the ritual Seder feast while sheltering-in-place. Many are turning to technology to create a new tradition: the Seder in Place.

Dennis Eisner, senior rabbi of Peninsula Temple Bethel in San Mateo, is sympathetic to the sense of loss people are likely feeling.

"This year we're not going to sit with our entire families as we used to, or sit with all of our friends as we used to, where you'd find a Seder table of 30, 40, 50 people," Eisner explained. "The reality is that we're going to long for our family members to be sitting right beside us. We're going to miss the moments of having our friends there as we celebrate, as we tell the story of Passover, as we observe the customs."

He acknowledged that even preparing the traditional Seder meal will be more challenging this year.

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"It's more complicated to go to the market. It may be more complicated to actually find some of the foods that we are traditionally accustomed to having at this time of the year." Eisner said, "If you go online, you can see there are many places that are even delivering Passover meals."

Eisner is encouraging people to embrace the situation, use mobile technology and video conferencing to connect, and focus on what's important.

"The one thing I would also say to everybody is that it may be a moment where we have to worry less about how Passover was last year, and more about how we can create a Passover this year that is meaningful," Eisner said, "That accomplishes all the things that we need to do right now--that's to stay socially connected, emotionally connected."

To hear more tips from Eisner for celebrating a virtual Passover Seder, see the video above.

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