NORTHWEST CT — As Passover — the most widely-celebrated Jewish holiday in America — approaches, and with restrictions put in place to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Northwest CT’s Jewish community members are preparing to celebrate Passover — which began this year Wednesday, April 8 — at home under mandated shelter-in-place orders, and Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest CT is responding with Passover Seder-to-Go kits and DIY tools, said an email from the organization.
Unable to gather for the seder with family, friends and community as they planned to, for many, this will be their first foray into leading it themselves. And while there isn’t a noticeable supply shortage, this is something many may find difficult preparing for for the first time. In response, Chabad will offer “Seder-to-Go” kits containing instructions on how to conduct a Passover seder yourself as well as all of the traditional foods, ensuring that every Jew in Northwest CT wishing to have a Passover seder can easily do so, whether they are in quarantine or just isolating at home.
In the past 25 years, Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest CT has led large community Passover seders open to the public and has ensured that all of Northwest’s community members had the tools to celebrate Passover, including providing for the home-bound and institutionalized. This year, with social distancing measures in place, they have ramped up those efforts to ensure that everyone will have what they need to celebrate the holiday in their homes.
“While traditionally, Passover is a time when families and communities come together, this year, we’ll each be celebrating at home, and for many, it will be their first time conducting a Seder,” said Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach. “That’s why we’re making sure that everyone has what they need to celebrate Passover.”
The preparations for the seder are not just in the kitchen. The seder is generally led by the head of the family and all kinds of people are stepping into that role on short notice. So Rabbi Eisenbach is offering an online crash course and “model seder” to teach them, as well as sharing online Passover resources at www.ChabadNW.org/CoronaPassover made to help people through this unique Passover on the world’s largest Judaism website.
While many groceries have the machine-made square matzahs, also being made available are traditional, round shmurah matzah, the unleavened bread made from flour guarded and watched from the wheat field to the mill, before being handmade in a bakery and then eaten on Passover, adding a unique flavor and experience to the seder.
The local effort is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched the shmurah matzah initiative as part of an effort to create awareness and promote observance of the holiday. An estimated four million hand-baked shmurah matzahs will be distributed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement leading up to Passover.
As chametz (leavened products) cannot be owned by a Jew on Passover, Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest CT is providing a chametz-sale service online. The chametz is set aside in one’s home, sold to a non-Jew for the duration of Passover and bought back after the holiday. The chametz sale service is also available at www.Chabad.org/SellChametz which coordinates approximately 90,000 chametz transactions, but this year with synagogues shuttered, they anticipate the number to jump to 350,000.
“We are praying for the full and speedy recovery of everyone who has been affected by this terrible virus,” said Eisenbach. “While each in our own homes, remember you are not alone and we are all in this together. Faith, tradition and community has never been more important than now. With the help of G‑d and community we will come out of this stronger than ever before.”
Chabad of Northwest CT offers education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact us at 860.567.3377 or visit online at www.chabadNW.org.