Senior rabbis in Israel have made an exemption for the upcoming Passover feast, telling families that they do not have to gather around a single table but can instead eat and celebrate via conference call.
In what is fast becoming known as the “Zoom Pesach,” a reference to the popular conference-calling app, Orthodox Sephardic rabbis ruled that the tradition could have a Covid-19 makeover this year.
The message was coordinated by Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, who headed the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court for more than a decade, and was focused on making sure elderly members of the family did not feel they had to attend in-person, they said.
Joining other senior rabbis and chief rabbis across Israeli municipalities, they told families that they could use Zoom for Seder night if they turn on all electronic devices before the religious holiday begins, citing this “time of emergency”.
They said that the use of video-conference could be permitted because it was being done for the sake of the religious commandment to perform the Pesach seder, adding that it was “clear to all” that their permission to use the programme was “for emergency times only”.
The rabbis said their ruling was “to remove the sadness from seniors and the elderly and to give them motivation to keep fighting… and to prevent depression and mental weakness which could lead them to despair”.