In her spare time, Abby Slutsky enjoys brainstorming unique ways of entertaining.
Every time Passover comes around, it's hard to believe it's been a year since the last. Unlike most years, I prepared a Zoom seder last year. Although it took a little work, I planned for each participant to be responsible for a part of the seder, so it flowed smoothly despite everyone being in different places.
It did not take that much time to get it together, so I thought I’d share some tips for anyone else who might be planning a virtual family gathering for Passover. Here are five things you can do to make your virtual seder feel festive and run smoothly:
- Choose a Meeting Time and Forum
- Decide How Long You Want the Seder to Last
- Assign Each Part in Advance
- Provide Participants With the Necessary Links
- Take Advantage of Helpful Online Resources
1. Choose a Meeting Time and Forum
Whatever virtual forum you decide upon will require you to set up a particular time for the meeting. Whether you choose Zoom, Google Hangouts, What’s App, or another forum, make sure that everyone is comfortable using it.
When selecting the forum for your virtual Passover seder, consider the length of time and the ease of use. If relatives who are not savvy with technology will be attending, you may want to create a test meeting a day or two before to make sure that everyone is comfortable using their online meeting technology.
Choose a time that is mutually convenient for your family. Send Pesach invitations or contact attendees via phone so that everyone has time to prepare their individual holiday tables. At a minimum, remind everyone to make a seder plate, buy matzah, and have wine available.
2. Decide How Long You Want the Seder to Last
This is really a matter of knowing your audience. Some families have Passover seders that exceed two hours. Others prefer to say just a few prayers. Some families fall somewhere in between. Our family does the essentials, so the seder is usually 20 or 30 minutes max, but you can decide what to include based on your family’s interest, the attention span of any children that will be involved, and the allotted time on your virtual forum.
3. Assign Each Part in Advance
In order to move the seder along fluidly, I recommend assigning each person a part. You may wish to use an online Haggadah or prayers that people can access online so everyone can follow along and has the same wording. Using print Haggadahs in different households may result in page numbers being different, so it may be more difficult for everyone to follow along.
Tell each person when their part will begin so they are ready to go. For example, if Aunt Lisa is saying the prayer for the wine, tell your nephew that his part begins immediately after Aunt Lisa’s wine blessing. If desired, you can even send everyone an email list of who is assigned which part and the numbered order.
4. Provide Participants With the Necessary Links
If you are going to include Pesach songs or any other information, send the relevant links to anyone who is assigned to introduce that information. This will ensure that the participant finds the information easily and is referring to exactly what you recommend.
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5. Take Advantage of Helpful Online Resources
There are a few resources that can enhance your seder. If you want to incorporate Hebrew into your seder, but no one in the family speaks or reads it, try going to a website that has Hebrew Passover prayers that your family can integrate into their own service.
No Passover seder would be complete without the four questions. If your family does not read Hebrew, assign the youngest reader to ask them in English. If desired, someone else can read them in Hebrew. My Jewish Learning has a rendition of the four questions in Hebrew.
30 second seder, shared by Josh Bob, provides an introduction to the festivities and touches on most of the major points of the seder. If you want a child to share their recollection of the story of Passover, this quick seder will help jog their memory before they tell the story in their own words.
One of my favorite ways to liven up the seder is to play one or more of the many entertaining songs that discuss Passover. The ones listed below are my favorites and will appeal to adults and children:
Adam Shapiro’s song "Leavened" will remind everyone that they cannot have leavened items during Passover. It is a fun parody to the tune of Irving Berlin’s "Cheek to Cheek" that will have everyone smiling.
The Macabeats' "Les Miserables" song will make your guests think of a musical show as they enjoy the seder.
Jonathan Mann has a song about the 10 plagues that will add some festive fun to an otherwise sad discussion. Assign someone to play the song for your virtual guests, and, if desired, drop a bit of wine after the mention of each plague.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on March 03, 2021:
Thanks so much for reading.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on March 03, 2021:
That was such a great idea. I think if the person assigned to organise it uses a platform everyone can use, it will run more smoothly. Also assigning tasks ahead of time and sending out an itinerary ahead of it is very smart.