March 1, 2021
Last year we celebrated an unprecedented holiday of Pesach as we were not able to celebrate with family and friends because of Covid-19. This year will, sadly, be the same. Although more and more people are receiving vaccines, we still have a way to go before we can be together with our family and friends in the same way that we did in years past. One of the items on the Seder plate is the Karpas. The Karpas is a green vegetable that we dip in salt water at the Seder. It is actually the hors d’oeuvres of the Seder, as all formal meals The Monthly Newsletter of Beth El Synagogue MARCH 2021 MARCH 2021 ADAR/NISAN 5781 ADAR/NISAN 5781 in Temple times began in this way. There are those (like my family) who use a potato for Karpas as there were not many green vegetables in Poland (where my family originates).
Karpas represents springtime. Pesach is the holiday of spring. After a cold and snowy winter, we look forward to the advent of spring and then summer which is not far behind. The Karpas represents hope. It teaches us that even in the darkest times, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This year we need that hope more than ever before. It has been a very long year as we have been living with Covid-19. We need hope that tomorrow will be better than today. When you eat the Karpas this year at your Seder, give honor to all those who lost their lives to Covid-19 and then concentrate on the hope that this holiday represents. We will get through Covid-19 if we continue to follow safety precautions like wearing masks and social distancing. When we eat the Karpas we are essentially saying that there will come a time (we pray, soon) when we can gather with our family and friends.
Our people have always believed in hope. It is no accident that the National Anthem of Israel is Hatikvah—the hope. May the Karpas that we eat at our Seder help us to internalize the hope that we need at this moment. Like last year, we will be having a Zoom Seder on Wednesday, March 31, at 5 p.m. Rabbi Nover and I will go through the whole Seder in an abridged manner. This was successful last year, and I am sure it will be helpful again this year for those who do not have a Seder to attend and for those who would like to join with their Beth El community to celebrate Pesach.
Since Erev Pesach takes place on Saturday night, March 27, following Shabbat, there are a few changes that are made as to how we begin Pesach. The Fast of the Firstborn will take place on Thursday, March 25, at 7 a.m., and we will burn the Chametz at Beth El on Friday, March 26, at 8:30 a.m. The Search for Chametz will happen Thursday evening, March 25. There are two options for making HaMotzi on Friday night, March 26. You can use Challah rolls and eat them outside or in the foyer to make sure no Chametz comes in contact with your Pesach food or dishes, or you can use egg Matzah. Although egg Matzah is not technically considered Matzah, it is also not Chametz. Therefore, you can choose to use egg Matzah as a substitute for Challah on that Friday night. The last time to eat Chametz in our area on Saturday, March 27, is 10:57 a.m., so for lunch on Saturday, you can use only egg Matzah for HaMotzi. We do not eat regular Matzah until the Seder. The last time Erev Pesach fell on Saturday was in 2008, so it is important to reinforce these practices. Leslie, Noam, Gavi, Yona and Yaffa join me in wishing you a happy, healthy, sweet and safe Pesach. May the Karpas that we eat at our Seder give us hope in these challenging times. Chag Kasher V’Sameach!
—Rabbi Jay M. Kornsgold