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Passover Seders go virtual this week

Boca’s Jewish community is going virtual for Wednesday and Thursday Seders and Passover services through April 16. The city’s Reform temple is even using Broadway to lighten the retelling of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. “It would be our way to bring a sense of joy in the celebration,” said Temple Beth El of Boca Raton Rabbi Dan Levin.

Seder watchers are asked to register so platforms like Zoom can accommodate everyone who wants to take part.

People can download the Haggadah pamphlet with prayers and rituals and even a song book. There’s also a link for a family Seder the second night on the temple’s dedicated Passover web site

“We want to appeal to people of all kinds of ages and stages. After the first part of Seder, they can have a virtual Seder with other people. So, if they’re home alone, they can stick a computer on the table,” Levin said.

“We’ve been doing livestreaming of Shabbat services for years,” he added. “This is different and an opportunity to participate through virtual portals. I’m seeing hopefully what we’re learning through all of this: the virus doesn’t discriminate. The sense of loving care I see helping people is deeply inspiring.”

At B’nai Torah Congregation, a conservative synagogue, the Seder for families and young children will be Zoomed. The other will be livestreamed, and “perhaps on Facebook so people can watch it when they are ready and according to their own times,” said senior Rabbi David Steinhardt.

“We have had hundreds of people open to our classes and especially our services. I would guess there will be about 500 people at our Seder,” he said.

The person who leads the Seder goes through the Haggadah and holds up items from the Seder plate to explain what they mean. “Yes, we will be going through the Haggadah. More than holding things up, we will be pointing to things,” Steinhardt said. “It will be a little quicker than usual. The Seder for families will be a lot quicker than usual. And, yes, we will have services throughout Passover. We are either live streaming or placing on Zoom services every morning and every afternoon throughout the week and we will be doing so until this is over.”

The year, Seder will more of a learning experience than usual, Steinhardt said:
“Throughout history, Jews have had Seders during difficult times. Sometimes even under the threat of death. No question about it, this is a very difficult time. So hopefully, people will not only join together with others and make the connections with family and friends and community. But also have the opportunity to look deeper and a little differently at the message and the meaning of the Seder…. We have an obligation to keep alive all of those stories. I believe this will be the story of our generation.”


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