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No one was ready for The Covid Passover. Now we have the chance to be ready for the Covid High Holy Days

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Rosh Hashanah 2020 and everything that follows in the Jewish calendar is giving us the heads up that it may not be “normal.”

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People don’t talk about Passover in the year 71, and we should. Not 1971. I mean 71, roughly 1,950 years ago.  

Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, and July 29-30) commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the summer of 70 CE. Each year on that day, Jews traditionally mourn. They weep over the Temple as they sit on low chairs, refrain from personal grooming and other rituals that create a virtual “shiva.” It’s a virtual shiva because it has an artificial tone.

Before 2020, Jewish life had a pretty good routine going. High Holy Days brought the community together to start the year. Synagogue Chanukah and Purim parties were annual highlights. The seder was a benchmark for family Jewish identity.

In addition, one’s own Jewish year may have included special Shabbat dinners, Sukkah parties, Rosh Chodesh events, as well as community marches, fundraisers, and carnivals.

We can think about lavish kiddushes, bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, and elaborate weddings. Take all this into consideration, and the Jewish calendar has been in quite a healthy groove for the past couple of generations. So when it comes to Tisha B’Av, we need to stop, and “make ourselves sad,” right in the heart of the summer camp season, to commemorate the past.

In 2020, most of these events that made up our Jewish life schedule came to a screeching halt in March. That’s where Passover of 71 comes in.

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When we think about our Jewish lives, we generally don’t think of sacrificing animals in a temple. However, for close to 1,500 years, that was very much the case, and the primary ritual manifestation of religious expression.

The Temple burned in the summer of 70. The following Spring, the Jews were faced with a new reality they had never dealt with before: What does Passover look like without bringing the Passover lamb offering? Can we do Passover without a Temple? What happens now? The Passover Haggadah as we know it, had not yet been written. Our Haggadah, and our continuing Passover traditions, are the end-result of the Jews figuring out the answer to “what happens now?”

Today, many Jews are finding themselves asking what their Jewish life is supposed to look like, with synagogues shuttered, summer camps cancelled, while weddings are taking place on backyard porches. When we were taking our first major adaptive steps in figuring out what our adjusted seder was going to look like this past April, we had no idea that there was a very real chance that we may still find ourselves at home for Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, too.

Photo: Lavi Perchik (Unsplash)

My call to action is to take action for your Jewish identity. If your own Jewish identity is of value to you, it’s time to ask what that looks like when the community support and events no longer exist in the way they always have.

Realize that in many ways, these institutions have been Jewish for you; as all you had to do was show up, and be part of it. What Jewish experience will you create, and provide for yourself and your children, when it’s entirely your responsibility? Is logging in to a Zoom call from your synagogue enough? That may be for some, and not be for others.

My call to action is to ask yourself the tough questions, on what makes your life a Jewish life. If you want your Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to mean something when you’re not in synagogue, then the time to prepare is now. This may involve consulting with spiritual leaders, reading more, and creating meaningful customs that could enhance your experience.

The COVID-19 Passover seder snuck up on us, and most of us weren’t ready. The Jews in the year 71 also weren’t ready. Rosh Hashanah 2020 and everything that follows in the Jewish calendar is giving us the heads up that it may not be “normal.”

Let’s get ready.

Meir Balofsky is originally from Toronto and moved to Israel in 2004 with his wife and three children. Meir has maintained close ties to the Toronto community and has returned each summer to join the staff at Camp Moshava Canada in each year of its operation since making Aliyah. Meir currently resides in Ramat Gan with his family.

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Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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