Pesach togetherness despite COVID-19

Dvora Schweitzer receiving her Pesach parcel

Temple Israel offered a wide range of online activities and resources for Pesach this year.

Pesach preparation began with a cooking demonstration led by Rabbi Emma Gottlieb and her mom Beth, on Wednesday evening 24 March. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring Rabbi Emma and Beth together on one screen, making the physical distance between South Africa and Canada irrelevant!

Thanks to a generous donation, Temple Israel was once again able to put together Pesach packs which were delivered to the aged members of our congregation, fulfilling the mitzvot of maot chitim and honouring our seniors. These packs were delivered by members of the programming team and synagogue councils.

Our Pesach evening service took place on Saturday 27 March, after which congregants attended their sedarim. Temple Israel offered two seder options: a Zoom seder led by Rabbi Malcolm and Gillian Matitiani, and a YouTube prerecorded video of a seder led by all four members of the rabbinic team, lay readers and children of our congregation. This video was pieced together and edited by Rabbi Emma Gottlieb.

These offerings afforded people the opportunity of celebrating Pesach in a meaningful way if they were unable to attend a family seder. The YouTube option also allowed congregants to supplement their own sedarim by screening select pieces.

The second night of Pesach provided an opportunity for the young families of our community to get together online for a special seder led by Rabbi Greg Alexander, Student Rabbi Andi Kuti and our youth worker and Netzer Madrichah Rachael Bootcov.

The seventh day Pesach service was followed by a seventh day morning service during which we acknowledged, celebrated and blessed all the babies of our congregation that were born during lockdown. It was fitting to hold such a special service on Shevi’i shel Pesach, deemed by Jewish tradition to be the anniversary of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, since the parting sea can be viewed as a birth canal through which Am Yisrael was born.

Our Pesach offerings were well received by our congregants and brought a strong sense of community despite the fact that we couldn’t get together in our synagogues because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Temple Israel

• Published in the print edition of the May 2021 issue. Download the May 2021 issue PDF here.

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