Do We Know How to Be Free this Passover?

by Amanda Herring / March 23, 2021

Last year, I optimistically ended my virtual Seder with “next year in person!”, never imagining that one year later we would again be planning to sit on Zoom for our Seder. While many people in my family have gotten vaccinated or have their appointments, it’s not quite time to joyously gather in large groups indoors. 

Things are starting to look brighter. Vaccines are being distributed, the weather’s getting warmer, life will take on its new normal. It’s helpful for me to remember that our Ancestors didn’t leave Egypt and immediately know exactly how to behave and interact with one another from the moment they stepped off the shores of the Red Sea. It took 49 days of wandering and fumbling with their newfound liberation before the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

This text gave a rubric for how to form their new society in freedom, as free people.  

We are entering a new period as the population becomes vaccinated, and safety protocols are eased. Over the last year we all had to figure out what we were comfortable with during a global pandemic. Will you meet up outside? Will you double-mask? Will you go to the grocery store or order delivery? Now the rules are changing again, and it will take some time to feel safe. We don’t yet have clear guidelines for how to behave. There are many articles coming out about return-to-normal anxiety: I Forgot How To Hang Out, half of all people surveyed…said they were worried about adjusting to in-person interactions.

As I will probably be one of the last people I know to be vaccinated, I’m taking this period of time to look inward. This year, I co-created a Self-Care Workbook for the Omer. The period of 49 days between Passover and Shavuot.

I want to understand what this time alone has meant to me and to begin to process how I want to be better. Despite being indoors most of the time, I certainly don’t feel like this year was wasted! I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks into quarantine, and I now stand here talk-to-text-ing this article with a baby on one arm.

It has been a wild time of transition for me at home with my partner: we lost a beloved pet, we renovated our house, and we welcomed a new family member. None of this I have been able to share with my friends or family in person. My grandfather has only met my baby through FaceTime! I’ve spent this time during Covid thinking about personal growth, and now it’s time to embark on this journey during this month of freedom

  • How do we want our interactions to be different than they were before the pandemic?
  • How will we discover gratitude in the ability to look someone else in the eyes, to hug, to just sit and be together?
  • How will we newly appreciate being able to go out and grab a drink together or gather in shul?

I worry how long it will take before these things become mundane, and we forget to be appreciative of these precious moments that we fantasized about in quarantine.

I’m going to take these 49 days of counting the Omer to look inward, to try to see if I can hold on to the sense of wonder at the first time returning to each little thing – a walk, a handshake, a pat on the shoulder, clinking glasses, contagious laughter. I will try my best to hold on to the preciousness of these moments.

When we receive the Torah in May (and hopefully our vaccines) and we return to those things that we love, but maybe didn’t realize how special they were, may we receive that Torah wisdom and may we keep reading it year after year to remind ourselves of how precious it is to sit together with our brothers and sisters.










amanda herring jewish plannerAbout the Author: Amanda Herring is an experience curator and Jewish educator and the cofounder of She is currently the Manager of Jewish Life & Learning at the Edlavitch DCJCC. Amanda enjoys long walks with her baby and dog, Mensch, making greeting cards, teaching baby ballet classes, and eating amazing food with her Husband, Greg, who is a whole animal butcher and chef.




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