Passover in the shadow of corona, home alone but connected online

A Seder table setting (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Israelis will be observing Pesach this evening much as the Jewish people did that first Passover — waiting at home alone for the plague to pass over them. 

“When God allowed a plague it was always because there was corruption on the earth,” Meno Kalisher, pastor of Jerusalem Assembly, told Kehila News. “As for the church, God is preparing us to meet Him and judgement begins in the House of the Lord.”

With the specter of a pandemic looming over the world, Israelis will be observing Passover under lockdown rather than with friends or family for the first time ever. Police will be enforcing a curfew from 3 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. on Thursday in an effort to stem the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Israelis around the country are being required to do something most of them never have done before — celebrate Passover alone or with just the family with them in the same home,” Kalisher said.

But Kalisher believes this is an opportunity for the church specifically, and the nations as well, to reevaluate our relationship with God.

“When there is a party, the focus is on the party. But when people are alone, like during this shocking situation, it will be easier for us to put God at the center,” Kalisher said. “It will bring the individual into a more intimate relationship with God.”

Like the first Passover, Israel is hoping the plague of coronavirus will pass over now as well with the extreme isolation being implemented around the nation. 

These regulations affect Messianic congregations as well, many of which traditionally have a communal Seder dinner. While this year, congregants will be celebrating with their immediate family at home, many organizations are hosting Seders online so that people can tap into community.

Jerusalem Assembly will send out links to Zoom calls from various Seder dinners in the congregation to the members who can choose which one to dial into. 

“We are trying to minimize people being alone during the holiday,” Kalisher said.

Other congregations around Israel are following suit. Kehilat HaCarmel is hosting an online Seder from the home of one of its pastors. 

“This Passover will be like none we have never experienced before,” Dani Sayag said during the Shabbat service broadcast on YouTube. “Here in Israel we know we need to celebrate this holiday in our own homes with our core family and it will be painful because we won’t be able to be with the grandchildren and the rest of the family. But thank God we have technology which we can use.”

Sayag said this festival is an appointed time when God wants to meet with His people. “My prayer for all of us is that in this passover is that we will all have a personal meeting with God,” Sayag said. 

At Jerusalem’s King of King Community, Pastor Chad Holland said some of the congregation’s home groups will host Seders and teachings online during their mid-week online gatherings.

Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv is also hosting a symbolic Passover Seder on Zoom a couple of days after the actual holiday for people overseas who want to experience a typical Jewish Passover Seder.

Beit Eliyahu in Haifa is encouraging people to prepare their own Seder meals at home due to the restrictions. But the congregation’s focus will be on celebrating the Lord’s Supper in a live stream service this coming Shabbat. 

“We traditionally make this the focus of our service during Passover week, so we felt it was the right thing to do for this service,”  Philip Litle told Kehila News. 

Not limited to Israel, Voice for Israel Ministries founder Hannah Nesher will be hosting a Seder on Canadian time. Nesher, who is a Messianic Israeli will be leading the dinner with teaching as well online on April 8.

And for those who are unable to dial in to a Seder, but who want to observe the holiday, One for Israel has provided downloads including a Haggadah, a guide to the Passover Seder, and recipes. 

“The most important thing at Passover is to REMEMBER God’s story of deliverance and redemption, first of his people Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and then the rest of us from our bondage to sin. He did this through the Passover Lamb,” One for Israel wrote on its website.

“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 12:13