Virtual Passover Seder finds sweetness in bitterness

A virtual Seder dinner shared by loved ones. —Lydia Roven

Instead of a Real Estate Confidential for The Minute this week, Fred Roven would like to share a message from his daughter, Lydia, written to him in an email sent April 9. 

Yesterday was our virtual Passover Seder! 

It started at 5:30 CST on Google Hangouts and, so, after work, I thought I’d pop out to get some matzo and a little wine. 

I went to the deli down the street and met Rabbi Jacobson. He was so excited to meet me! He asked my Hebrew name and I told him “Chana” and he was extra happy because his wife is Chanie! 

I started to feel badly that I didn’t wear my face mask or gloves. “I’m having unprotected deli,” I thought nervously, and Hebrew is so . . . phlegmy. Of all the languages to speak without PPE, that’s not the one you want! 

But Yossi saw my inner Shiksa and needed to do a mitzvah! He helped me find a good, sweet wine. I found a memorial candle for Uncle Larry. A box of matzo (I didn’t know you had to eat the bland kind only at Passover. (Oy, the suffering!) Then, he (“On the house, Chana!”) prepared me a Seder plate of all of the symbolic . . . symbols. The bitter herbs, the shank bone, the egg, charoset, even the salt water and carrots to dip. He bundled me a portion of brisket and potato kugel, stuffed cabbage, and even a piece of gefilte fish and some red horseradish. So, of course, by that time I’m crying, and then he tells me that his brother who is in New York just passed away from the virus and he knows that he was supposed to do a Mitzvah for me and I promise I will light the candle for his brother, too. 

All the ingredients for Seder dinner, gathered with love. —Lydia Roven

So out I go with my seder plate, my full dinner, a calendar of Jewish events, a magazine, wine, matzo (for Passover and egg matzo for when I am free from suffering) and my candle. 

The Seder was so beautiful. It was extra emotional to see Bubbe and Papa, and I hope they can stay healthy and safe. Technical difficulties, Dayenu and all, it was a great night. And I promise to only practice safe deli from now on. And safe grocery store. And safe gas. As much as I can. I have my mask! Next year, in Bubbe’s kitchen!

I hope this plague will Passover soon and that we can recline and rejoice in the sweetness of life, and even find the sweetness in the bitterness. And the togetherness in our solitude.