The holiday of Passover recounts the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This year, Hillel students celebrated freedom, the primary theme of Passover, in quarantine because of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
To serve their students from afar, Hillels around the world adapted their in-person celebrations for online platforms. Below are highlights from their Passover-inspired activities and Hillel seders:
Alternative Seder Plate
Unable to acquire traditional items for their seder plates, students watched the second installment of “Seder Secrets,” a video series produced by professionals at University of Michigan Hillel. Caroline Dorf, a Hillel International Springboard Innovation Fellow, recommended viewers use a beet in place of the shank bone, which represents the paschal sacrifice, and applesauce as a substitute for charoset, which symbolizes the mortar used to make bricks while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
More than 130 students and young adults isolated in their homes in Moscow were able to celebrate Passover with to-go boxes. Hillel Russia delivered 130 boxes filled with a pack of matzah, a bottle of wine and a Haggadah, a Jewish text guiding the seder. Ohio University Hillel and University of California, Los Angeles Hillel also provided seder kits for their students.
Wine, matzah, laptop — check. More than 700 students and young adults participated in a seder led by the Greater Philly Hillel Network via YouTube. The pre-recorded seder included traditional elements, such as the recitation of the four questions, and meaningful reflections about the holiday. Other Hillels organized virtual seders, including Hillel Warsaw and Princeton University Hillel.
Find the Afikomen
Honoring the customary hunt for the afikomen, Hillel at Virginia Tech hid two pieces of matzah on its website. Students who found the matzah were entered in a raffle to win an Amazon gift card. The outbreak of the coronavirus encouraged many other Hillels, including Washington and Lee University Hillel and Hillel Milwaukee, to “hide” the afikomen on their websites and social media platforms.
In the Kitchen
Shachar Pinsky, a Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow at Towson University Hillel, engaged students with an episode of “In Shachar’s Kitchen,” his online cooking series for tasty and healthy treats. In his video, he instructed students on how to make tahini buns with minimal ingredients.
Let My People Go
Hillel Israel created an online boardgame called, “Let My People Go!” The game, available in Hebrew, Russian and English, teaches players about Passover traditions from Jewish communities around the world.
Hillel students at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill participated in a virtual movie night to celebrate the weeklong holiday of Passover. They watched “The Prince of Egypt” with friends via Kast, a real-time video sharing platform that allows viewers.