Ahead of Passover, Durham’s Jewish community adjusts celebrations due to coronavirus


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Jewish community, like other religious groups around the world, has had to make major adjustments due to coronavirus. Among them is how to safely celebrate Passover.

At Beth El Synagogue in Durham, meals are being packaged and prepared for Seder, which is the Jewish ceremonial meal to start Passover. Family members and friends usually gather around the table for a feast, but can’t this year.

“In no uncertain terms, we have told people you may not gather in each other’s homes. We must must respect the physical and social distancing,” said Rabbi Daniel Greyber.

Greyber has been holding virtual services since North Carolina health officials set social distancing guidelines.

“(We are) doing a lot of the melodies that people find familiar, and people are able to see the sanctuary that, for them, is a very safe space and a place that provides a lot of comfort,” he said.

Comfort has meant making exceptions to the rules. To hold a public prayer, Jewish tradition requires a Minyan or a quorum of a certain amount of people. Technology and COVID-19 have changed that. Zoom, Facebook Live, and Skype have all helped connect people as the virus forces to physically stay apart.

“That has enabled people to do things like saying the Mourner’s Kaddish, which is a very important prayer, emotionally, for people after someone has passed away,” Greyber said. “Whether you are celebrating Passover or not, my hope, at this time, is that people connect with faith, and that freedom will return, and that we will be OK.”

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