The Meaning of Passover During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin shared how Temple Sinai is adjusting to COVID-19 as her congregation prepares to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Passover is about escaping a narrow world, one in which people believe themselves to be gods. When the Israelites leave Egypt, they have no idea where they are going, but the wilderness is better than being in a place where people abuse their power and subjugate others.

Though it was clear to many before, the pandemic further highlights the ways in which power is being abused in our society, that the inequities run deep, and that too many of our citizens live precariously in a world that is wealthy enough to care for everyone. Our world will change when we can act with more humility, recognizing that the individual cannot succeed without the strength of the whole.

So, as we celebrate Passover, we are reminded that this has happened before and we got through it and were better on the other side. Passover serves as a story that gives strength and inspiration for us to get through difficult and troubling times. 

COVID-19 is serving as that reminder, that our lives are in the hands of each other, and the only way we can all stay safe is if we take responsibility for everyone else. The plagues in the Book of Exodus served as that same reminder. We can’t ignore the plight of others if we want the world to stand strong.

With all the difficulty and all the pain of this situation, I’m hoping we will emerge from it with a better understanding of how narrow our perspectives have been, and know that things have to change. We might not know exactly what all the aspects of a better world would look like, or how we get there, but it’s better to try to venture into that unknown than to stay in a place that is doomed to destruction by arrogance and greed.

So, as we celebrate Passover, we are reminded that this has happened before and we got through it and were better on the other side. Passover serves as a story that gives strength and inspiration for us to get through difficult and troubling times. 

We continue to run various projects throughout the city that serve people. We participate in the soup kitchen at First Presbyterian Church, which is our neighbor, making take away meals. We also run an evening food pantry in the Temescal area.

For our congregation at large, and especially those who are most at risk of being isolated, we have activated our Caring Community network wherein people connect with and check up on other members of the community who live in the same neighborhood.

We had also planned on helping to make sure that people are included in the Census and while the initial plan and training were all in person, we are shifting to other means to ensure that people are being counted.

As this situation goes on, we will continue to look for ways that we can help and support those most at risk, during this crisis, and in its aftermath.

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