Passover: A Letter from Rabbi Arnowitz

Dear WJC Family,

Last Passover arrived almost exactly one-month after the local coronavirus outbreak. We hadn’t a clue what we were in for – and the not knowing was brutal. Mamaroneck Public Schools closed on March 13 with a plan to reopen on March 30. On March 27 the re-open date was moved to April 15. On April 6, as we cleaned and prepared to search for hametz (leavened products), the governor mandated that the closure extend to April 30. As the schools were struggling to accept the new reality of pandemic, so were offices and stores. By the time we sat down for our seder on April 8, at a table with just our household and maybe a laptop setup with Zoom (which at the time still felt like alien technology), we were disoriented, downtrodden and detained within our houses. Perhaps never before had we so appreciated the plight of our ancestors in Egypt, huddling in their houses as a plague passed amid their neighbors outside.

For the month that led up to last Passover, we at WJC did our best to support our congregational family. We organized food deliveries for those who were unable to go to the market, we curated online resources for solo and virtual seders, and we offered Zoom classes (it seemed so innovative a year ago) to help everyone have as successful a holiday as possible.

Now as Passover 2021 approaches, WJC is equally committed to helping make this holiday a meaningful one. Things have changed in the last year – they’ve been worse and they’ve been better. The future remains uncertain, but there is hope in the air; as the Holiday of Spring (as Passover is called in the Torah), approaches we are experiencing our own hopeful rebirth. People are getting vaccinated, case counts are dropping and we look to the future with hope. We are not out of the woods yet – we need to be careful as we continue to peer into an uncertain future, but we can sense what redemption might look like. If Passover 2020 was reliving the first Passover night in Egypt, Passover 2021 feels like reliving the night of the parting of the Red Sea one week later – still frightened, scarred by our past experience, but hopeful for a miraculous redemption and the promise of a brighter, safer future.

In that spirit, enclosed are resources for the coming holiday. You will find links to some of the classes we offered last year and recorded, as well as information about new classes we are offering this year. There is information about “selling” your hametz, a siyyum to cancel the Fast of the First Born, a chance to burn our chametz together (and roast marshmallows), and information about a wine sale from a shop that will deliver kosher wine to your door and donate part of the proceeds to WJC.

This year Zoom is familiar, masks are the norm, anxiety is an old friend; so how do we purposefully make this seder night different than other nights? This year let’s see if we can use this Feast of Freedom to remember what it is like to feel hope, optimism and the joy of the promise of tomorrow. WJC will do everything we can to help you get there; this journey, like the Exodus, is one we will succeed at together. Please let me know if there are additional resources we can provide or ways that we can help.

Wishing you a season of hope and joy,







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