A Holy Week like no other. No Masters. No Opening Day. Big and little sporting events postponed or canceled. Religious holidays, however, are the shows that must go on.
Is that simply superstition? And aren’t all good luck charms officially discredited in the age of COVID-19? If any human had great superstitions that worked worth a damn, this coronavirus crisis would be over.
Tiger’s lucky Sunday red shirt’s not helping us now. Let’s hope we can watch Woods defend his crown at a Masters to remember in November. LeBron’s old ceremonious chalk toss used to be lucky, but King James’ messy ritual would be against pandemic law now.
If superstitions and entertainment diversions won’t work, let’s turn to our organized religious rituals. The late comedian Alan King quipped this summary of Jewish holidays, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” Passover fits that bill except for the lengthy seder service before and after the meal.
We eat great at Silverman seders. I’m blessed to live with the latest in a long line of Silverman women who make delicious chicken matzah ball soup and perfect briskets. If Trump’s hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work on COVID-19, they should try Trish’s chicken soup. Or some scrumptious Trishket.
Pandemic Passover 2020 was memorable. No extended family gatherings this year. Just my family of four and some live screening with relatives.
The words of the Exodus story really resonate now. How could they not? Here we are, hunkered down, yearning for freedom. Our fervent prayer is for this latest angel of death to pass over our homes.
The seder’s language of inclusion is especially apt now as all of us confront this modern plague. A dramatic pre-meal part of any seder, especially this year, is recitation of the 10 plagues that Hashem inflicted on Pharaoh’s Egypt.
With the seder leader’s stern Hebrew pronouncement of each successive plague, tablemates repeat that plague, dipping pinkies in their wine (grape juice for kids) and dotting out patterns of red marks on their empty white plates.
Ten drops of wine for the 10 plagues and participants then lick their pinkies. No fingers in mouths this year! Not at my table.
This year, I added an 11th plague, “COVID,” which sounds like a Hebrew word. My nephew over Facetime wise-cracked a 12th plague, calling out “Trump.” That name could also be Hebrew, as demonstrated in Israel by the Golan Heights community named for our 45th president.
Trump’s 2020 Passover greeting caught my ear: “This year’s going to be different, you won’t be sitting tightly knit together in temple. You’ll be at your homes.”
Tightly knit? What are we? Sweaters. Did Trump mean to say tightly seated or tightly packed? Perhaps I’m too tightly wound, but who says tightly knit in that context? Is Trump thinking of Jews as a tight-knit people? Is this the anti-Semitic accusation of clannishness? Was this a compliment or insult?
There’s more to critique about Trump’s Passover greeting. Jews don’t pack temples on Passover. Our seder observances traditionally occur within individual homes. President Trump might have known that, but he discontinued Barack Obama’s perfect record of holding Passover seders in the White House.
Perhaps Trump could attend a seder at the Kushners. Best not this year, what with darling young grandkids and given the president’s age and obesity. I wonder if Ivanka, forced this year to stay home, made her own brisket and matzah ball soup. I’m guessing delivery.
Someone else who might have educated our president about Passover being an in-house observance was a Jew named Jesus Christ. The New Testament explains Jesus’ efforts to locate the proper Jerusalem house in which to attend his last Passover seder.
Christianity teaches Jesus was betrayed by Judas and crucified the day after that Thursday seder. Christ’s suffering is commemorated on Good Friday, Christianity’s most solemn introspective day. But not for Donald Trump who felt surprisingly upbeat during this coronavirus crisis, tweeting the following in ALL CAPS to his Twitter flock, “HAPPY GOOD FRIDAY TO ALL!”
Maybe that’s the right approach. Adjust your attitude, America. Take a sad day and make it better. Truth matters not when you’re America’s cheerleader.
Let’s cheer, hope and pray for better days. May this coronavirus-infected Holy Week make for special memories, and not represent the new normal. Amen.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C.
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