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Whether you're still distanced as everyone awaits their vaccines, or you're on separate coasts, here's how your friends and family can gather for a Passover Seder on Zoom.

By Stacey Ballis
March 12, 2021
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Passover is still going to be different this year for most of us. While many of our parents or grandparents will thankfully be fully vaccinated by the time the holiday rolls around, the rest of us are likely to still be waiting. And with schools moving to in-person, the safety guidelines are still to only celebrate with the people who live in our homes.

But the good news is that the past year has taught us so much about how to make things special in their differentness — to find the good, the opportunity to invest in the unique blessings of a holiday that is small and contained and intimate.

How to Have a Virtual Passover

For your immediate family, start early with menu planning. Does everyone want the traditional dishes, or might this be a fun time to shake things up?

Perhaps you might want to explore Jewish food traditions from around the world, or simply try new twists on old recipes. We know that often, whether you are hosting or going to someone else's home, getting the meal on the table is hard enough and often that means prepping or cooking ahead by yourself.

Take this opportunity to cook the whole meal with your kids or spouse or partner, to give them a sense of ownership and inclusivity. If there are parts you usually purchase, maybe this year make them from scratch. Try homemade matzo or macaroons. Even gefilte fish is easier than you think, especially if you only need to serve two to six people.

If you are used to large gatherings, refocus on how being smaller can actually make it extra special. You can upgrade your usual leg of lamb for luxurious racks or try prime short ribs instead of brisket; little Cornish hens instead of the typical roasted chicken. If you want to make your usual recipes, most can be halved easily, or you can make the full recipe and either share with a friend or neighbor, or freeze half for a future meal. 

Share the Seder

If you want or need to drop off meals to friends or family who usually join your Seder, think about fun ways to bring them their festive dinner. You can pack a whole Seder meal in an Indian tiered tiffin, a three- or four-piece tower ($24; amazon.com) can hold the soup in one, the gefilte fish and egg in another, the entrée with sides in the third and dessert in the fourth. Or drop off ahead in reheatable containers ($18; amazon.com). You can even split duties and go for a pickup potluck, to divide and conquer. 

Personalize the Experience

Think about how you most want to celebrate, or even who you'd want to celebrate with if it were not for the need for distancing.

For example, if you are missing that traditional big gathering, consider doing a Zoom service, or plan on Zoom dessert with the family and friends you usually celebrate with after service. Perhaps plan a virtual gathering with the people you would love to celebrate with but never can because they do not live near you.

If you are a family who celebrates with two nights, think about making them very different from each other. This might mean focusing on just your immediate family one night, and then an expanded celebration with your extended group the second. It might mean a super traditional meal one night, and a whole new menu the following.

If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out all of our fabulous Passover recipes for the Seder meal, as well as delicious options if you plan to be dietarily observant for the full eight days.

And finally, if you are not the usual cook for this holiday and the idea is daunting, don't hesitate to find a local restaurant to support with a takeout order, or a mail order meal kit to make your life easier. You can also find terrific prepared soups, appetizers, side dishes, and desserts to purchase and put all your energy into the protein.

The key is to really think about what is essential for you in celebrating the festive season, and find some ways to make the holiday feel meaningful even while it feels different.

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