A Zoom Seder Dinner

Corona Log April 15th, 2020

The Zoom Seder Dinner was one of the strangest and also saddest Seders ever. Let's just hope it was a one time thing.

Israel Corona Update April 15th, 2020:

12,200 Confirmed cases, 176 Critically ill, 126 Dead.

For official information go to the Ministry of Health Website

On the week before the Seder, news were becoming more and more persistent that we will be forbidden to reunite with our families for the holiday this year.

Every year, all the Israelis get in the car with pots and dishes, gifts and fine clothes, and go over to our parents', in-laws', close friends', cousins', aunts uncles' and grandparents'. It's the great unifier, the ultimate family gathering. 

This year we were forced to split up.

On the day before, a general lock down order came into effect, and on the Erev Pesach itself, the eve of the holiday, the lock down became a total curfew. No one was allowed to get out of the house, or travel between cities. 

I realized that for the first time in my life, I would be spending The Seder on my own. There was just one silver lining: Zoom.

A Zoom Seder: Technology to the Rescue!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who created Zoom: You're lifesavers!

I'd never heard of this this software before the epidemic. Now I can't imagine living without it. Everyone from my business coach to the grounded pilots of my gliding club are using it to stay in touch.

I had really hoped, right up to the last moment, that the holiday won't have to be like that. I can't remember such a deep sadness as when it finally sunk in with me that I was going to be alone. 

My parents learned to operate Zoom. It wan't all smooth, but it worked. We turned it on in the morning for a test run, my brother and his lovely lady joined in with their 5-month-old baby girl. It was heartwarming to see everyone.

Scrambling for Groceries 

A good friend called me - "Are they serious about this curfew?" she asked, refusing to believe this could be real. 

Israeli policeman stopping traffic on Passover eve

It was real.

The police, backed up by army units, spread all along the country setting up road blocks and giving mighty fines to anyone who broke the curfew.

Then I realized that I had to prepare a Seder dinner for myself and that I didn't have all the ingredients at home! 

Got in the car, with gloves, face mask and a bottle of Alcogel, and went for a Supermarket round. This was one night a year I was determined to cook something good. No way I'm eating some frozen dinner on the Seder.

My landlady gave me a list of a few things she needed as well.

I went to three different supermarkets, stood in line two meters apart from other people, had my glasses fog over from the face mask, only to have the kind security guard come down the queue to break the bad news: There were no eggs left.

The Egg Problem

El-Al Egg ShipmentEgg Airlift. Picture: El Al

This thing with the eggs is bordering on madness now.

A special airlift of five Dreamliners converted to cargo planes scrambled to Lisbon and Kiev to bring millions of eggs for the Seder.

They landed softly in perfect El-Al landings so we'd all have an egg on the Seder-Plate, eggs for the chopped liver, eggs for matzo balls and eggs for the matzo-brie the morning after. You simply can't have the holiday without them! 

Still, you have to get to the supermarket first thing in the morning if you're to have any hope of getting a dozen. Eggs are now rationed in most places - only one package per customer.

I shared with my landlady half the eggs I had in the fridge from a week before. She made matzo-ball soup, a chopped liver salad, and a matzo-fruit cake.

Her own family, friends and myself, each came to her house in masks and gloves, received a portion, and went home alone to celebrate via teleconference.

That still left the Haroset.

My family has an ancient Haroset recipe. I won't eat any other. Now I couldn't go to my parent's to get it so I had to learn how to make it myself.

I gathered all the ingredients and stood in my little kitchen. It was time to gather the spirits as well.

Gathering the Family Spirits

The Secret Canfi Family Haroset Recipe

Try it yourself, it's actually pretty easy to make! 
Click here to go to recipe

For generations my family would make the Haroset together, passing the secret recipe from father to son.

I wished they could be there with me - and so I drew them in my kitchen.

מכינה חרוסת, לבד, אבל עם כל המשפחה לדורותיהThe Hebrew version :)

These are the people in the drawing:

My dad and mom, brother, sister in-law and baby niece I didn't have to imagine - I called them on the phone and my dad walked me thru the recipe.

Then I thought of my grand parents, and their family left back in Poland before WWII.

The guy with the big red beard is maybe one of that once great clan.

My dad showed up with a beard like that one day. My Grandma saw him, burst into tears and sent him to take it off, because it reminded her of one of her brothers.

He did shave it off, but not before going down to the photographer on Allenby Street, and that's how I know what it looked like.

The girl with the wine bottle is perhaps my Mom's mom. 

On the left is a Spanish ancestor with white doves. Our family name Canfi, is a short for Canfey-Yona, meaning Dove-wings, translated from the Polish Taubenfligel.

Before that, my dad's family came from Spain, and the story of how we got the family name goes back to an ancient legend involving a set of Tefilin that turned into white doves.

All the way back is my imaginary ancestor in Ancient Egypt. 

In the corner to the right is my laptop, following the Corona outbreak on Youtube.

I refuse to accept this "new normal"

Having the Seder on Zoom was awkward, and strange, a bit funny, and sort of sad.

We had some technical difficulties but after a while we got the hang of it, and managed to read the story of the Exodus to each other, spicing it up with present day commentary. 

The people at Zoom made a generous gesture which gained them the gratitude of everyone in the Jewish world - they lifted the 40-minute limit for that evening.

By the end of the evening the technology started to feel strangely normal.
When I caught myself feeling that, I shook it off.

I never, not ever, want this to be normal.

Happy Passover everyone, here's a big virtual {{{hug}}}

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