There is no doubt that this Passover will truly be different than all other Passovers. As we prepare to experience a very intimate seder experience, how can we not be reminded that, despite the physical distance between us and our loved ones and our community, we are closer than ever!
We are part of a powerful and strong Jewish community that has rallied itself to help each other, to listen to each other and to listen to ourselves. This has been a time to be introspective, and rethink and reevaluate our actions towards our relatives, our friends and our community. This time of isolation has, perhaps, also been a time to think about what it means to be happy, and to set new goals and priorities.
When the Jewish people left Egypt, they discovered a new way to live in a different reality. We can only imagine what our reality will look like after COVID-19. A different world, perhaps. One thing for sure ... we will continue to find new ways of celebrating, building community and writing the next chapter of our beautiful Jewish community.
We are adapting, learning, and growing, and, despite the self-isolation, we're somehow building a stronger Jewish future.
Thanks to your generosity, we expanded our Passover Campaign to include a significant investment in helping at-risk individuals and families in our community to get through the pandemic safely – before, during, and after Passover. Thanks to your generosity, we are making this Passover a very special one for the most vulnerable in our community and for people who never thought they would need help. They may be alone physically, but they know that an entire community is behind them, because of the calls of care and concern, the food packages they've received, and the knowledge that they are not going through this pandemic alone. With our help, they know that everything will be b'seder - alright in Hebrew, despite the plague we are dealing with.
The traditional Passover seder invites the youngest members of our families to ask questions. This year, more than ever, let our seders be filled with many questions. And who knows - after years of large family gatherings, perhaps you'll be the youngest family member at your table, so ask away!
The COVID-19 pandemic is also presenting us with an opportunity to reflect about the period of the Holocaust. We've often wondered how everything fell apart so fast during those years, how it was possible that so many didn’t have time to sell their homes, close their businesses, and leave.
This year, we won't be able to commemorate Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day - together, and yet, I think it's going to be especially meaningful, because we can understand how things can change by the hour, without having time to react. We can also understand that, despite the most dramatic chapter of the Jewish people, there was always hope that everything would be b'seder.
Maybe this year, in addition to placing Elijah’s Cup on our seder tables, we could add a cup of wine to represent all the guests who are absent from our seder, and another cup to represent our supportive and caring Jewish community: a community that is very thankful for your support during this critical time, a community that didn’t stop working despite the crisis, a community that is physically apart, but closer than ever, and most importantly, a community that will stand stronger and united like never before, ready to write the best chapter of its story.
PHYSICALLY APART … CLOSER THAN EVER!
Jacki Levin President, Hamilton Jewish Federation
Gustavo Rymberg CEO, Hamilton Jewish Federation