Some Jewish people in the DMV turn to virtual Seders for Passover

For Jewish people who use electronics on holidays, Passover is being handled much like Americans are living some aspects of their everyday lives during the COVID-19 pandemic -- virtually.

A Seder, the traditional meal hosted on the first and second nights of the Passover holiday, typically involves extended family and retelling the story of Exodus from a special prayer book called a Haggadah.

But with physical distancing measures in place across the nation, families across the U.S. and the D.C. area are coming together via Zoom or other video conferencing apps.

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Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, says some families are so observant that they don't use electronics on holidays or the Sabbath, but those that do are using technology to celebrate the holiday together, but safely.

Mitch Malasky and his family, who live in Northwest, hosted at least a dozen family and friends via Zoom.

Malasky and Preuss both say this Passover has special meaning and perfect parallels to the story of the holiday, in which the Jewish people escaped bondage in Egypt.

"It is a story about going from someplace narrow, someplace constraining, to freedom and that is more relevant now than ever. Think about the constraints that we're living in under quarantine and where we hope to be in the not too distant future, which is one of openness and freedom and connectedness," said Preuss.

Even staple foods on the Seder plate mirror feelings of the coronavirus quarantine conditions.

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The parsley represents spring and freshness and renewal and the saltwater represents tears and slavery and pain, and so I feel like in this Spring where we're trying to celebrate the season but there's a lot of pain and discomfort around us it seems very poignant and apt right now," Malasky said.

Each Seder traditionally ends with a phrase looking to the future, "Next year in Jerusalem."

"Next year in Jerusalem now just kind of means next year all together," Malasky said.