Sumatran rhinos at the Cincinnati Zoo. by the Forward

Daily distraction: See some animals, tell your Passover story, and jam out while you clean

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

I can’t believe it’s already Sunday. For me, time is starting to blur and I’m beginning to challenge the premise that days have particular “feels” to them. It’s a bit alarming, but this period has reinforced for me the need for rituals. Writing this distraction column is one of them, and I hope it’s become a part of yours. Having fun, silly or thoughtful things to do is important for everyone’s sanity. Make some time for them in the midst of all this stress.

1) Go to the zoo

In a bit of a twist, this pandemic that’s keeping us all at home has allowed zoo animals to come out of their enclosures. We’re sure by now you’ve seen that viral video of penguins exploring their aquarium.Well, there’s more cute content if you know where to look. The San Diego Zoo has been posting videos, including this encounter with a coati and some apes. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Zoo (home of Fiona the hippo) has been hosting “Home Safaris” on Facebook Live every day at 3 PM and posting past ones on its YouTube page. Hang out with some meerkats, red pandas, sloths, elephants and cheetahs. The remote safaris, featuring one or a few animals with a trainer, are more intimate than your typical zoo experience — even if you’ll be watching with a potentially limitless crowd — and you can feel good knowing the animals are still receiving care. Per The New York Times, zoo critters seem to be thriving under the current conditions. They deserve it.

2) Make your own haggadah

For decades, the highlight of my second Seder was a reading of a rapped-through retelling of the Passover story that was never updated since its introduction sometime in the ‘90s. (To give you an idea, it features the line “Gotta go to Mo’s” — a reference to a then-current and now long-defunct Modell’s jingle.) It was cringeworthy always, but also, really fun. Given the unique circumstances of this coming Pesach, now’s the time to get creative with the narrative. Write a sketch, song or haggadah to reflect today’s anxieties and explain why this Passover is different from all other Pesachs. Find some humor or some gravity in our tale of hard-won freedom. It may bring some clarity and perspective to what we’re all going through.

3) Clean — but have fun doing it

Cleaning is always a big part of the windup to Pesach, and even though this year’s Seders are looking quite different, a tidy house makes for a happier quarantine. Before you go about purging your hametz on the fourteenth of Nisan, why not dust, sweep and organize? It’s a good way to stay active — especially if you play some music. Either choose from one of YouTube’s many cleaning playlists, curate one of your own on Spotify or give something from your CD or record collection a spin. You don’t need my recommendations for cleaning songs, but I have been known to play Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” because it is the most absurd soundtrack for a mundane task.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at


PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at

Daily distraction: See animals and make a haggadah

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Daily distraction: See some animals, tell your Passover story, and jam out while you clean

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