Monday, April 6, 2020

Zoom Seder Instructions

TBE Zoom Seder Information II
A Sweet Passover to all who will be joining us at our first-ever TBE Zoom Seder! 
Let me be the first to say that I hope it is the last ever as well, though for our purposes this year, the online format will suit perfectly.
Earlier today you received instructions regarding the link, including where not to share it (on social media) and where you can (with relatives or friends in need of a Seder).  The Zoom format presents us with opportunities to reach lots of people in lots of places, but the possibilities for interaction - especially with regard to singing - are limited in a setting where we are expecting more than 100 participants.
So here's what will be happening:
1)    ARRIVE EARLY: We will start right on time at 6 PM.  Please link up to the Zoom meeting at least 5 minutes beforehand to avoid an electronic bottleneck. 
2)    LENGTH:  My best estimate as to the length is an hour up to 90 minutes, depending on how much people want to participate.
3)    PARTICIPATION: Active participant involvement is a cornerstone of TBE's philosophy, as well as the Seder's.  But with Zoom we have to be creative.  For the most part, participants will be muted while the leader leads.  If you are interested in leading a supplementary English reading, let me know ASAP.  Also, I will throw out questions to the group where you will have the chance to share replies in the "chat" box.  We'll also do some video sharing - so, if you have a favorite Pesach heir loom, like a kiddush cup, Seder plate, plagues toy, pillow - or a special food that you've prepared (say, a unique family recipe for charoset), bring all of it to the table.  With that in mind, it is really important that everyone be all-in for this Seder.  In other words, if your computer has a camera, turn it on so we'll all see one another and share in community as best we can.
4)    WHAT ABOUT THE MEAL? This will not be a "soup to nuts" Seder, where we include every word of every page, the way Zayde used to do it.  The format simply does not lend itself to that. And of course, there will be no soup nor nuts provided.  We will go through the early parts of the Seder but skip past the meal, so that we can cover a few highlights from the latter parts of the Seder before wrapping up.  There is no point in keeping the Zoom meeting open while people are eating.  One reason for the early start time is so that people won't get excessively hungry; however, I encourage you to have snacks available while we go through the first part.  What do you think all that dipping is all about?  Those are appetizers, and last I heard, a potato is a vegetable, so instead of parsley, grab a bowl of chips and you'll be fine. 
5)    WILL THIS BE A CHILD-FRIENDLY SEDER? We try to make everything child-friendly at TBE, but given this format, it will be hard for us to do that.  But I am looking for young volunteers to lead the Four Questions - please let me know ASAP!
6)    WHAT HAGGADAH WILL WE BE USING? - As long as you can follow the basic order of the Seder, you can use whatever you have at home.  But this is the one I'll be citing: it and have it on your screen, or you can print it out in advance.  But if you happen to be using one of the 4,000 other versions of the Haggadah that have been published, it's always interesting to hear different perspectives.
7)    Incidentally, I also will be using some or all of the supplementary readings below:
Urechatz - CLICK HERE   
Ha Lachma - CLICK HERE
Four Questions - CLICK HERE
Avadim Hayinu - CLICK HERE
Four Children - CLICK HERE
Plus, a new Rabbinical Assembly Seder Supplement has a number of readings and discussion themes that may be incorporated.
8)    Finally, a request.  I've led large Seders before - plenty of times - but never anything like this.  I'm very appreciative of Stan Friedman, who has been our prime Zoom engineer and will be very helpful on that night.  He will be especially vigilant in light of the growing number of hate crimes being committed by those intruding on Zoom events.  But essentially, I'm leading this Seder on my own - commenting, singing, coordinating - which, without the instant response of a "live" audience is not easy to sustain.  Plus, invariably, there will be a glitch or two.  I don't think the people at Zoom have any idea what they will be in for this Wed. night - their technicians will be busier than Elijah!   So I ask for your patience and cooperation.  And make this Seder your own.  Share observations in the chat box.  Smile and sing along, even if no one can hear you.
This will be truly a night unlike all other nights.  There will be plenty of opportunity to reflect on the uniqueness of this year, but at the same time, we should be careful not to ignore Passover's more enduring messages that have gotten us through times far tougher than this (without minimizing the real suffering people are enduring now).  Still, the hallmark of this holiday has always been in how it constantly reinvents itself, and that will certainly be the case here.
See you at the Seder!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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