Next year in…Long Ditton…..

A Pesach night very different from other nights….

Pesach 5780 / Passover 2020 was a memorable experience for KLS. Due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic we were unable to meet for our annual communal seder. However, that did not stop us coming together as a community on three separate occasions to celebrate the festival.

On the first night of Pesach, traditionally the time when we hold seders in our family groups, an online seder was hosted by Rabbi René for those members of the community who could not be with their families in person or who do not have families with whom to celebrate. An abridged version of the full service provided by Liberal Judaism was used.

The following afternoon saw us hosting a special seder for our young children, led by the Headteacher of our religion school, Beiteinu. A cacaphonic version of “Mah Nishtana” was a highlight!

Our main communal seder took place on the second night – which is traditionally the time we all come together to celebrate the festival. This year we hosted a full-length seder online led by Rabbi René. Starting at 7pm, we paused at 8pm to allow attendees to clap for the carers with their neighbours and the rest of the country.

During the service we reflected on the current situation and considered how it would change things when the crises has passed. Rabbi René explained how the KLS community had come together with many offering to help our more vulnerable members. We also noted the success of our livetreamed Shabbat services and promised to continue these once the lockdown had passed so that we can continue to reach all members and not just those able to travel to our Synagogue building.

As we ate our seder meals, many of us stayed online to share our recipes, stories and conversation – including a debate on the relative intelligence of cats, dogs, pigs and donkeys. We also invited some of our pets to join us (spot the cat….):

After our meals we resumed our service for the concluding parts. As well as the traditional extortion “next year in Jerusalem” we also looked forward to next year when we can meet again in person….”next year in Long Ditton!”

Speaking after the service Rabbi René Pfertzel said “It was such a wonderful and unforgettable evening – with loads of positive energy coming from all members who attended. Clearly it is not as good as being together in person but it is wonderful that technology has allowed us to still connect for Passover, a festival that is so vital to the Jewish community” .