As Jews around the world sit down at their tables tonight for Passover, the Seder (which translates to “order”) will have a new meaning.  For many, the traditional Passover Seder will bring a comforting order to our quite disordered daily lives that have been uprooted from their regular rhythms. It will bring a welcome familiarity and regularity to our unfamiliar and irregular new realities.

As we recall the exodus from Egypt, many of us are experiencing an exodus from our own lives, traditions and families. As one of the few Jewish holidays based mainly in the home, Passover this year will, by necessity of social distancing, require families to be apart.

We have traditionally hosted the second night of Passover in our home where it, if I’m honest, can require a big effort for a big group. As I prepare for this year’s small group of 5, I stared longingly at the familiar setting that will be set aside this year for a more intimate site. Even though I’m so grateful having our nuclear family together to weather these difficult times, it feels unnatural to be separated from parents, grandparents, and other relatives for the holiday. There is no question that many people will be alone or in pairs celebrating what is meant to be a loud, albeit ordered, family affair. As we “zoom” our Seder with other family members that have embraced technology to create our togetherness, I will think about those who are ill and struggling, those who do not have technology at their fingertips, and those who are social distancing alone and will fly solo through the holidays.

I will also be thinking about the thousands of people who are helping those who are struggling. Whether they are frontline health workers, grocery store clerks, package deliverers, pharmacy technicians or mask makers, I’m eternally grateful for the creativity of the human spirit that is coming together to fight this pandemic.

Each year, we are commanded to tell the story of slavery and freedom, of repression and exodus. In this telling, we pass on to future generations our shared values as our history emphasizes the importance of continuity from generation to generation. This year’s Passover experience will become part of that telling, and it brings its own unique answer to the question we ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

As Jews celebrate the exodus from a land of oppression, and as Christians celebrate redemption later in the week at Easter, let us all remember that we have faced dark times in our histories and have overcome them.  As we face challenges today and in the days to come, I believe that people of good faith will come together in a spirit of humility to rebuild our lives and communities, shining the light of compassion and humanity. May you and your loved ones have a healthy, safe & peaceful Passover and Easter.

Please stay home, stay safe & stay healthy, and as always, let us know if we can help you in any way.


Shelly Hettleman
Senator, District 11

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