Moment editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein calls on the Jewish community to tackle anti-Semitism and COVID-19 at the same time by using the freedom of virtual seders to invite people of other faiths to join.
“We’ve all watched in dismay as anti-Semitism and the coronavirus have converged in new variations of old conspiracy theories, Epstein says. “Including people from outside the Jewish community in our seders can combat both these scourges in one fell swoop. We can inoculate present and future generations against the dangerous virus of anti-Semitism. Seders are all about learning and education is the best defense against all kinds of prejudices. They are a great teaching moment.”
In some Jewish circles, these invitations remain rare due to a combination of custom based on centuries-old rabbinical rulings that effectively banned Jews from cooking for people who do not observe Passover traditions. And while today most American rabbis wouldn’t censure their congregants for such inclusivity, many Jewish families don’t think about inviting people from other faiths.
But doing so can make a difference. If two million Jewish families invite non-Jewish friends and acquaintances to their seders in 2021, as many as six million people could experience the meaning of Passover. “The seder transports us back to the time when we were slaves, who fought for and won our freedom, a universal theme,” says Epstein. “Reaching out to connect to others to our history in a safe way has never been more important.”
“So go forth and invite,” adds Epstein. “It’s a small action that can make a big difference, now and for future generations.”
To provide guidance for virtual seders, you can download Moment’s free Haggadah supplement: “The Seder Has Always Been Virtual ” downloaded for free.