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Mar 11

Pesach, Matzah, Maror for 2021

In the maggid (narrate) section of the haggadah (“the telling,” the Seder text) we read a text from Mishnah Pesachim about Rabban Gamliel. Rabban Gamliel said that a Jewish person should talk about פֶּסַח (pesach – the Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah – unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror – bitter herbs) every year at the Seder.

Every year, at every Seder, פֶּסַח (pesach – the Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah – unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror – bitter herbs) stay the same. But every year, at every Seder we are different. Every year, at every Seder, פֶּסַח (pesach – the Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah – unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror – bitter herbs) mean something different to the people we are in that moment.

This year, the Passover Seder will fall almost exactly a year into the COVID pandemic (386 days, in case you’re counting), so I asked Anafim (“Branches”) for 2nd-3rd grades what פֶּסַח (pesach – the Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah – unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror – bitter herbs) mean to them this year as the second and third graders who have lived through a year of quarantine, Zoom school, and “pods,” plus extra family time, and extra time at home with loved ones.

Here’s what a few children said:

Child 1: The [COVID] results [are bumpy like matzah] because they start really low and then they get bigger and bigger and bigger until they’re really really high.

Child 2: [Maror is] a little sweet for COVID because the doctors and people are coming up with vaccines and stuff. You might still have to wear masks but you can go to museums and stuff like that.

Child 3: If you burn matzah the matzah will never be the same or look the same and also you can probably for the rest of our lives you can probably be online just like burnt matzah

Oh, Anafim. What a year it’s been, and what different, beautiful, wise people you are this year, at this Pesach (Passover). As difficult as this year has been, I feel so lucky to be connected with you as you make sense of it all. Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover!)

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