The author’s late father dressed as Elijah.

Do We Pass Over Passover This Year?

By Laura Mizrahi, Executive Creative Director, Razorfish Health

The word Seder means “order.” It’s the first thing my brother-in-law quizzes us on when we sit down to the Seder.

Who knows the meaning of the word Seder?”

It’s a rhetorical question, since after all these years we are all poised with the answer. We let a wise child shout out “order!” and our Seder begins.

Every year we travel different distances to get to my sister’s home in Rockland County. Me and my girls and my uncle from the city; cousins from Westchester; my brother and his boys from Washington, DC; and a nephew from Austin, Texas, where he has started a blossoming career with Amazon.

We pull up to my sister’s house, and take for granted its unmistakable order. The tulips beginning to bloom in the tree beds, the carefully set tables visible through the windows as we approach her front walk.

The Seder itself has a rhythm we have fallen into after years of tradition. The pause to sing my late grandfather’s rendition of “Matzoh Man” at the first mention of unleavened bread. My cousin David shouting “PUAH!” (Miriam’s handmaid) in the style of Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Our own spin on a story about slaves fleeing Egypt in haste.

The laughs, the prayers, the four questions sung by our offspring fill the room while my sister snaps pictures for her inevitable photo album memorializing the moments we are together. All while my mother, our matriarch, and my uncle, our patriarch, preside. Both widowed, they keep us grounded and remind us of those we’ve lost but can’t possibly forget. We recall my aunt’s booming laugh. My father appearing at the door, dressed as Elijah, wearing a beard and angel’s wings.

And yet this year, there is no order. We could have asked the question, “Do we pass over Passover this year?” But we didn’t. My sister set up a Zoom meeting. She sent us links to a digital Haggadah that matches hers. We cook—separately—in our own homes and the tradition will live on. It’s a strange feeling. But it’s also strangely uplifting. We forge ahead, like the Jews fleeing Egypt. And we know that we will face this journey together. When we get to the other side (which may take longer than Moses’s 40 days and 40 nights), we will still have each other.

I am certain that when I see those tulips again next year, I will take a moment to savor their beauty and be thankful for what they represent: another year, another chance to do it all again.

Laura Mizrahi is Executive Creative Director at Razorfish Health. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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