Missed the Seder because you caught Covid? You weren’t alone.
I strolled into my parents’ home Friday afternoon about six hours before Seder, only to find them seated in the living room looking rather concerned.
“Molly has Covid,” my mom said. Oh. My sister had gotten in from New York the night before. My parents had picked her up. Then she came down with a cold.
The rest happened very quickly: Our usual first-night hosts uninvited us, we told our second-night guests not to come, and we planned to do two family Seders via Zoom. For the first time in years, I caught the Four Questions. Wah!
Hands up if your Passover Seder being cancelled due to covid meant ordering pepperoni pizza for dinner. ?
— Megan Berkal (@MeganBerkal) April 15, 2022
My family was hardly the only one scrambling. With a surge in new cases, the not-quite-novel coronavirus swooped in like an 11th plague, and it was extra disappointing for those who thought 2022 would bring us back from pandemic-induced exile to the freedom of the old normal.
Some people who got sick found other ways to do Passover. Others simply found other things to do. A few postponed. Many struggled with FOMO (that is, fear of missing out).
While her 93-year-old grandmother hosted Seder for the extended family Friday night, Rochelle Basen was stuck watching “The O.C.” reruns and doing the New Yorker crossword at her home in Toronto. That’s pretty much what she’s been doing all week, she said, after testing positive on Monday.
“I don’t want to get too emo about it, but it’s something we’ve all been looking forward to for a long time,” said Basen, who is 32. “It’s very, very sad — the timing just sucks so much.”
She kept up on the gossip around the table via texts from her sister. But she missed the taste of matzo-ball soup and sponge cake, though her mom promised to swing by with a slice after the Seder concluded. After a week of COVID, she finally felt well enough to drink, but skipped the four cups of wine.
“I’m having a beer,” she said with a laugh. “It’s not kosher for Passover. It doesn’t matter.”
In New York City, Scott Berlin and his girlfriend, Ilana Maier, had planned to host a dozen guests Friday night. Since the two came down with symptoms — so far only Maier has tested positive — they canceled the Seder, threw the four-pound brisket in the freezer and were doing Passover for two.
— Ilana Maier ? (@IlanaMaier) April 15, 2022
The couple had been looking forward to joining their parents for Seders — hers Friday, his Saturday in New Jersey — and to starting a new tradition of hosting themselves.
Sure, Berlin would miss the brisket, but mainly, he said, “It would have been nice to spend this time with family and friends instead of closed off in an apartment.”
The couple said they spent the eventing watching “A Rugrats Passover” and “The Prince of Egypt,” and ordered in Chinese food.
Maria Robins-Somerville, 27, had planned to meet her sister’s new boyfriend for the first time at her family Seder in Brooklyn on Friday — until she tested positive. So she spent the evening quarantining in her room with some matzo brittle her roommate left outside her door.
Robins-Somerville said that her mother created a haggadah that quotes Allen Ginsburg and Anne Frank and adds new plagues to the original 10 — misogyny, ableism and devaluation of art, to name a few. Her dad makes the brisket.
“It’s the best Jewish holiday,” she said. “It’s the most fun. I’m sad, but it’s OK. I’m in a boat with plenty of others.
“Next year in Brooklyn, as they say.”