It will be more than Elijah missing from our table this year.
What is normally the largest communal meal in the calendar will be taken with whoever you are self-isolating with. For many, alone. This year, we’ll remember the ten plagues while enduring the eleventh.
It’s beyond surreal. Whilst we never do the huge groups many brag of (sharing pictures of their immaculate tables stretching endlessly into social media) we are always with extended family.
In my 50 plus years I cannot remember ever doing a Seder for four. As a child, our houses were packed with cousins, grandparents, aunties and uncles and even friends of family. In more recent years the smallest group we celebrated with has been eight — sitting down with my parents and David’s at the very least.
So this will feel strange — even in the new normal. The plagues far more relevant, as the four of us splash wine (or grape juice) on white napkins — if I can buy any online.
But we’re lucky. We are, at least, four. We have my daughter to ask her questions and we can try to answer them.
I feel for those on their own. I imagine there will be some Zoom/Facetime/Whatsapp versions and maybe even a Houseparty Seder, but to do it alone could be the pinnacle of their current loneliness.
And, cooking for smaller numbers will have many a balaboosta all of a tizz. Actually, I think that’s the easy part. Recipes are easily scaled down. Or you can cook the full quantity and freeze portions to take you through the rest of this confinement. And actually, if you are eating alone, there’s a freedom in preparing a simple salad? Or bowl of soup with kneidlach. The key part is the service itself and the items on your Seder plate. And even then, we are free to replace items on that plate that mean something to us.
My vegan Pesach article talked about replacing the egg and the lamb shank. If you can’t get those this year, then use a pretend egg. Or perhaps a square of bittersweet chocolate to symbolise the bitter tears and sweetness of freedom? All bets are off this year and rules may need relaxing. We’ve enough to stress about avoiding the hidden enemy that is Coronavirus.