Ma nishtana? What has changed this night? Actually a lot! There was no such Passover in the history of the Jewish people. However, despite the restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish communities and organizations of the Euro-Asian region managed to hold a Seder and celebrate Pesach in a way that is still special and meaningful.
The Jewish community of Kazakhstan
Online Seder, organized by the Jewish community of Kazakhstan on the online platform of the Rimon Jewish community center (Almaty), gathered more than 60 people from Russia, Germany, Israel, Moldova, and Kazakhstan.
The participants prepared everything necessary for the Seder: each table was decorated with the Seder Plate – a special plate containing symbolic Pesach foods. Young community leaders talked about the importance of Passover in Jewish tradition; adults taught kids the fascinating story of Pesach.
During the online Shabbat meetings, the community helped those wishing to recall Pesach traditions and prepare for Seder. In the following days of the eight-day holiday, activists of the Kazakhstan Jewish community continued to discuss Pesach traditions in classes and on discussion platforms of the youth and family club of the Rimon Jewish community center while the community volunteers introduced the holiday traditions for the kids from the virtual development center, operating at the community kindergarten of Almaty.
Hillel Russia launched a special online program Pesach Doma, which, among other things, contains online materials for preparing the Seder and online consultations for developing a personalized Seder scenario.
Hillel Russia delivered 130 sets for the holding of Seder, and also released an online Agada available for free download.
The Hillel community leaders conducted an online Seder in Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Saratov, Penza, and Yekaterinburg.
Hillel CASE organized a three-hour Passover marathon as part of the TEDx Online Shemot regional conference. 15 speakers told the participants about the history and traditions of the holiday, held educational quizzes and a master class on making matzah from scratch, and also offered recommendations for holding a Seder at home.
As part of the Cooking Battle project, Hillel Minsk held an online culinary battle dedicated to Passover: two chefs not only prepared Pesach dishes but also conducted an educational program on the history and traditions of the holiday.
During the three-day online seminar, students from Minsk and Odessa took part in a fascinating quest devoted to the history of Passover. Together, they went from slavery to freedom, tried to deal with their personal Egypt, and talked about the value of Eretz Israel.
Students of local Hillels took part in volunteer campaigns for the contactless delivery of matzah and Pesach sets.
All-Russian Union of Jewish Students (RUJS)
Activists of the All-Russian Union of Jewish Students together with the Moscow Jewish Community House (MEOD) and with the support of the EAJC, delivered matzah and kosher juice to the members of the Integration Project for Jewish children with disabilities and the Sheket program to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing Jews.
As part of the online meeting “Let my people go: what Kabbalah says about Pesach and the current situation,” Rabbi Alex Artovsky told Jewish students about the symbolism of Passover in a pandemic crisis.
The Jewish community of Azerbaijan
On the eve of Passover, the Jewish community of Azerbaijan came to the aid of single and needy: young community volunteers, provided with all the necessary protection, delivered gift parcels with kosher food and matzah for the Seder. Community volunteers liaise with older and single people to help them buy food or medicine if necessary.
Special thanks go to the Rabbi Shneor Segal, the Chief Rabbi at the Jewish Community of European Jews Synagogue in Baku, and the EAJC Vice President, German Zakharyaev who initiated and organized the community’s activity during these difficult days.
The Jewish community of Albania
Geront Kureta, president of the Albanian Jewish community, numbering about 50 people, sent warm congratulations to all EAJC communities and assured us that all members of the community, who mainly live in the capital of Albania, Tirana, are safe and sound.
The Jewish community of Georgia
Volunteers and employees of the Jewish community of Tbilisi have stepped up to bring the Aggadah and matzah to the community members who are at risk from the coronavirus – sealed bags were left at the door. A community-organized online Seder has brought together about 25 families.
The Jewish community of Ukraine
President of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, the EAJC First Vice-President, Vadim Rabinovich and President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili made a joint decision to help Jewish communities and organizations of Ukraine to hold the Seder.
Despite the complicated situation dictating strict requirements, the community leaders, with the support of the EAJC, did everything possible to ensure a festive atmosphere in Jewish families. The EAJC leaders turned to the Ukrainian Jewish communities and organizations with a request to give maximum attention to the elderly and veterans.
The Jewish community of Moldova
The Jewish community of Moldova invited everyone to the online Seder. Despite the difficulties, the community activists made sure that all Seder tables had matzah, while elderly and socially vulnerable members of the community received kosher food packages as well.
The community has launched a special hotline and is coordinating all the efforts, taking into account all Jewish organizations of Moldova. “These days, we provide assistance to everyone who needs it, and we will continue doing so, despite the prevailing difficult circumstances,” said Aleksandr Bilinkis, the president of the Jewish community of Moldova and the EAJC vice-president. The provides individual means of protection and food to members of the community who are at risk from coronavirus.
The Jewish community of Armenia
At the last moment, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress managed to deliver 300 kg of matzah to the Jewish community of Armenia. Head of the Jewish community of Armenia, Rima Varzhapetyan conveyed deep gratitude and greetings for Pesach: “We wish that the spark of hope never fades! Enjoy peace and happiness, love and prosperity, harmony and joy. We all can safely get out of captivity and quarantine. Hag Sameach!”
The Jewish Community of Croatia
These troubled days, we would like to especially greet the Jewish community Beit Israel in Zagreb, whose building was damaged by a recent powerful earthquake. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress sent emergency financial assistance to repair the building. Hag Sameaсh!
Dear friends, stay home and take good care of yourself and your loved ones. We wish you health, good luck, and an early end to this unfortunate situation.