Making Passover, Easter and Ramadan Digital This Year

Though food isn’t the purpose, it still holds convening powers. When do you eat? How central will it be this year? Does everyone still prepare one dish, to keep tradition, or bring their own full meal? If it’s Passover, think about who brings what. If it’s Easter, what might you have each person prepare, in part to prime them, as they think about coming together. If it’s iftar during Ramadan, do you mark it only with those you are sheltering in place with? Or do you break fast digitally, with others?

An invitation must help your guests wrap their heads around this new way of gathering this year. Give context to this gathering. “Can you believe that for some of us, this will be our 40th Passover together?” Tell the story behind why you’re doing it this way this year. “But this year, we need to do it in a new way.” Tell them who is invited. How long will it go? What will you be doing? And tell them what they’ll need to participate — that includes a laptop and Wi-Fi!

Is it “Easter Service”? That makes me think we’ll be gathering together to watch a broadcast from a church and then maybe have a discussion after. Is it “Wacky First Night High Jinks Seder”? That’s something totally different. The name is an opportunity to signify the intention, from the sacred to the profane.

Think about everything people would need to prepare in advance. Do they need to prepare a Haggadah reading? Do you need to distribute text to them? Do they need a second monitor to watch a streaming service? Do they need four glasses? Giving people tasks to do ahead of time helps them prepare emotionally for the evening as well. They arrive invested.

At any event, giving participants a meaningful role increases the likelihood it will be a great gathering. But now, some people use Zoom every day, and some people have never used it and will need help — and they’ll need that help well in advance. Appoint a person, or a number of people, as Ministers of Technology, or Zoom Honchos. They can reach out to do training. Ensure that everyone has done a dry run and knows how to get on, how to mute and how to chat. Waiting until the event will result in exclusion and frustration. Instead, make it a way to proactively connect the generations ahead of time.

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