By Ellen Bluth
PROMPT — During COVID-19 ...
It was shortly after Purim when we realized the Corona/Covid 19 virus had reached us in what we thought were our safe havens. Pesach (Passover) was approaching, but when I shopped the day after Purim (Jewish holiday of the Book of Esther which is a month before Passover), I still believed I would spend Pesach with my family. I spoke to my daughter and said, "If you really quarantine yourself and all your family (husband and 4 boys), and I quarantine myself for 14 days, then we could be together." But then the news became grimmer and we were told children could be carriers of the virus without any symptoms. So I was looking for alternate plans because the thought of being on my own for a three day Yom Tov (2 days of Holiday connected to a Sabbath) was unbearable.*
My good friend said, "You'll join us at our home (she has a very large dining room table) and you can sit far away enough from us for social distancing, but for sure, come join us. Don't stay alone!" I decided I'd be safer with my next-door neighbor who was home with only her husband and had followed the self-quarantining guidelines. As the countdown to Pesach was coming closer, the news and warnings against joining others was all we heard. My neighbor and I both decided to make our own sedorim (seder- plural sedorim - the festive Passover meal celebrating the Exodus).
I never liked staying home alone for both meals on a Shabbos (Sabbath which has a formal evening meal and daytime meal) and now I was facing three days alone and making my own sedorim. To say I was nervous and sad would be putting it mildly. But surprisingly, when I sat down the first night for my seder, I was calmer. My children had all sent me items to keep me company. One daughter sent photos of her children. My daughter-in-law and son gave me a family photo album illustrating the parts of the Haggadah illustrated with pictures of my grandchildren. My other daughter and family sent me a family shot and divrei Torah (Biblical thoughts on the holiday). I put them on my table so I was "surrounded" by my family. I read and sang and enjoyed my sedorim. During the day, I stopped by to visit other women who made their own sedorim and everyone said that surprisingly, it was very enjoyable, but next year, we all hope, with the Al-mighty's help, to be able to share it with our families.
Once in 60+ years, it was amazingly meaningful and memorable to make my own seder, read the Haggadah (text recited at Passover seder) at my own pace, divide the divrei Torah between the sedorim and day meals and sing to my heart's content. Please, dear Lord, in another 60+ years, I won't mind doing it again, but until then, please let me share Pesach with my family and shep nachas (have parental/grandparental delight) from my children and grandchildren.
*Observant Jews do not use electricity, phones, cars, etc on a Yom Tov/Holiday, nor on the Shabbos/Sabbath, making 3 days alone challenging when a 2-day holiday goes directly into the Sabbath.
Ellen Bluth, an active mom and grandma from Queens, NY, wears her constant smile for neighbors, friends and family, exemplifying her positive outlook on life. Professionally, she has a Masters in Special Education, using her enthusiasm for helping children as a SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) for children ages 3-5 with learning challenges). An upbeat cook and hostess, she enjoys small dinner parties as well as large gatherings with all her adoring grandchildren. They enjoy her holiday parties with customized activities for all ages. An avid needle pointer, Ellen makes personalized gifts for special occasions. She relaxes with long walks, yoga and word games, and always has time for a kind word for those around her.