Synagogues are empty, but Passover celebrations continue online

Posted at 7:50 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 21:50:23-04

BOISE — As Passover begins, Jewish families are finding new ways to celebrate the ancient holiday, as they can't congregate due to COVID-19.

"In Jewish tradition there a thing called a מניינים \ מִנְיָנִים "Minyan" which is a requirement you have ten adult people to fulfill certain Jewish obligations, and we can't do that in person," said Rabbi Daniel Fink.

Rabbi Fink, however, keeps his community united in prayer and video streaming during these holy days.

"Last night, we had a big congregational Passover Seder with people from our community and some of their friends and family from all over the county all over the world, joining us for Seder via Zoom," said Fink.

The thing he hears most about isn't the liturgy or songs, but the connection online, which reminds them they're all still together, even at a distance.

"Even if we're in these boxes and checkerboards on the screens, it's just felt good to see everybody and be reminded we're a community," said Fink.

Fink leads morning meditations every day except Sabbath and holidays. It's one way he's been a spiritual anchor in a time where there's no real routine.

"It's been helpful for me to prepare them and to lead them, and I think and hope it's helpful for people in the community, too, that's going to be there at the same time every day," said Fink.

Rabbi Fink says the job of the sermon is to connect communities today with the sacred texts of thousands of years ago. The Passover sermon centered on leaving Egypt is exceptionally timely.

"The Hebrew word for Egypt means a narrow or confined place, so we're thinking what is it like, how are we going to get out of our narrow or confined spaces even while we're physically still in them," said Fink.

Passover lasts until next Thursday, but even after, the congregation will stay online and connected.

"It's not quite the same as being all together, but the upside is that you know some people can be with us that otherwise wouldn't be," said Fink.