Jewish communities around the world have broken new ground by coming together online for Pesach in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown.
In Madrid and Barcelona, some of the country’s largest progressive congregations got to know one another through online preparation and services to form “a virtual community”, something they said they never envisaged.
“I didn’t think it possible to live your Jewish life only online,” said Yael Cobano, president of the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid, which has been working with Barcelona’s Beth Shalom.
“For me Judaism is face-to-face. The word ‘knesset’ means gathering, physical and not from behind the computer. However, through our joining together I was able to see the bonds, the good that a virtual community could offer during this pandemic.”
Jewish religious life is Spain is dominated by traditional Orthodox communities, which tend to shun the use of technology in religion, the Reform groups said, whereas they had embraced it.
Using a virtual conference platform, they started holding Shabbat services together and now have a weekly joint programme involving lectures, workshops and discussions led by past and current community members and international friends, including prominent rabbis.
While Cobano gave an online presentation on how to lead a seder, other members have filmed videos on making matzah, taught Passover-themed songs in a music workshop and shared Passover recipes.
Jai Anguita, president of Barcelona’s Bet Shalom, said: “During difficult times, one has to move forward and lead with optimism and solidarity.”
Meanwhile in the United States, seders were saved from the restrictions. In Connecticut, home to about 30,000 Jews, a Brooklyn airline caterer provided more than 1,000 frozen kosher for Pesach meals that had been prepared for El Al passengers before flights were cancelled.