| Why Is This Pesach Different? |

Why is this Pesach Different?

Yom Tov prep in the shadow of corona

The Rush on Matzah

“Do I see a shortage? A hundred percent. If I usually make 100 pounds in ten hours, now I’m making 60 pounds”

Calling matzah bakeries two weeks before Pesach should have been a fool’s errand. But it turned out to be as easy as a spring breeze.

One bakery owner was home with the coronavirus and eager to talk. A second was effectively on vacation, having sold out his entire line. A third said the run on products two weeks ago meant he was seeing few customers now.

Bakeries in the tristate area were generally seeing a chunk of their average workforce staying home. The natural result was a shortage of matzos, although bakeries assured me that nobody would be left without their lechem oni.

“Do I see a shortage? A hundred percent,” said Chaim Brown, the owner of the Boro Park Matzah Bakery. “If I usually make 100 pounds in ten hours, now I’m making 60 pounds. But Yidden care about each other. If someone doesn’t have, he’ll get from another.”

Someone familiar with operations at Lakewood’s sole matzah bakery said they were “definitely” seeing a shortage. The bakery was down to half its normal staff and did not have any matzah immediately available.

“They produced the same amount as usual but people bought weeks early,” the person said, agreeing that not having matzos two weeks before Pesach or having people make their purchases so early were both “unusual.”

The owner of the Monsey Matzah Bakery said that virus fears were causing a rush to the markets. While they have a sufficient supply, anxiety led many people to buy early this year.

“This year is different,” said the owner, who did not give his name, “because a lot of people came before.”

Brown, from the Boro Park bakery, which is more commonly known as the Poilishe matzah bakery, said that about 40 percent of his workers were home sick with the coronavirus. Consequently, his shop has seen a 40 percent reduction in productivity. He has no idea what will be tomorrow, let alone whether the traditional “matzos mitzvah” baking will proceed as scheduled on Erev Pesach.

Brown himself was home with a fever and cough, primary symptoms of the virus that has sickened tens of thousands of New Yorkers. He said that customers who placed orders with him will get matzos, but he will not set aside any surplus.

“Take the Karliner kehilla,” he said. “They usually come a few days before Pesach. But I don’t put aside for them. I don’t know if I’ll have matzos when they come. I don’t feel it’s right to put aside matzos.”

The shortage is not only for the run-of-the-mill customer. It affects the well-heeled as well, said Rabbi Elozer Boruch Bald, the founder of Irgun Shiurai Torah in Boro Park and administrator of a chessed fund to help people cover Pesach expenses.

Rabbi Bald said he heard from a prominent Toronto philanthropist who he had nearly missed getting his regular matzah order. He and some friends usually rent a bakery in Williamsburg and send the matzos to the Pshevorsker rebbe in Antwerp. This year, the rebbe told them not to wait but to schedule the baking for as soon as possible. They baked on a Monday and had it shipped to Toronto — an hour before Canada shut its border with the United States.

Most people, at least in Monsey, do not have to worry, the owner of that township’s bakery said.

“There will be enough,” he said. He then added, “hopefully.”

— Yochonon Donn

Full Carts, Heavy Hearts

“We’re used to huge numbers of deliveries for Pesach; we were prepared for that. We have extra vans. Delivery is not the issue. The issue is getting all those orders together."

When corona panic initially hit the tristate area, frantic shoppers emptied the shelves of virtually every national supermarket chain. “Ours shelves were never empty,” says a manager at Evergreen Kosher Market, a kosher supermarket chain that services thousands of families through its two premier supermarkets located in Monsey and Lakewood. “We felt we had a personal responsibility to our customers to keep the shelves full.”

At Evergreen, the panic hit at possibly the worst time: the point where the store usually takes advantage of a slow shopping week and begins to stock the shelves with Pesach supplies.

Facing a new and unfamiliar dynamic, the management quickly set priorities. But as the circumstances keep changing, protocol needs to change as well. “We’re in ongoing meetings, day after day,” the Evergreen manager says, “trying to keep everybody safe and doing whatever we can and as fast as we can for the customers. It is very challenging. It’s an ongoing process, an ongoing discussion.”

The chief priority is safety. “Pesach is coming and we know people are going to have to come out and shop for it, but the question is how are we going to manage those people in a way that is safe for everybody.” New clothing is optional, new shoes are optional, but everyone needs food.

To ensure safety, Evergreen swiftly banned children under age 16, limited families to one member at a time, and enforced social distancing. They also installed plexiglass dividers at every checkout counter to protect both customers and cashiers.

Still, medical recommendations keep changing. “The information comes in fast,” the manager says. “No gloves, yes gloves; no masks, yes masks. So you’re trying to get as many gloves and as many masks as possible, just to protect your employees and to make them available for customers who’d like them. We had to pay exorbitant prices, but we made a corporate decision long ago that expense is not an issue.”

Evergreen also bought a sanitizing system for all shopping carts and has teams wiping down the store and the shelves every two hours.

Then there are those families that prefer not to enter the store at all, and do all their shopping online. Evergreen has a robust online shopping system and ap that’s usually extremely efficient. But the system is no match for corona. Not only are more people requesting online service, the volume of each delivery has increased astronomically.

The management reacted quickly and hired new workers to serve as “baggers,” but quickly realized that solving this online crush isn’t just a matter of money – it’s a matter of logistics. “Imagine you have thousands of orders to fill for Pesach,” they explain. “In order to fill the orders for all those families, you would have to hire hundreds and hundreds of new workers, all of whom need to be trained in the software, become familiar with 50,000 SKUs, understand perishable handling instructions, replacements and many other peculiarities of the job. We’re hiring and training as fast as we can but we can’t possibly keep up with the demand, even with the availability of seasonal employees such as yeshivah boys.

“We’re used to huge numbers of deliveries for Pesach; we were prepared for that. We have extra vans. Delivery is not the issue. The issue is getting all those orders together. People are now home all day, eating breakfast, lunch, and supper with their families – they need a lot of food. And when someone sends in a $1,000 order, it takes a worker two hours to shop and bag it. Plus everyone is very specific about what hashgachos they want on this kind of chicken and that kind of meat. And since people keep shopping at such high volume, the inventory on the shelves changes by the minute.”

For now, the store is managing the online demand by taking as many orders as it can reasonably fill, then closing the service, preparing all those orders, and then opening up the service once again. “We deliver many, many hundreds of orders every week, regularly, but now everybody wants to shop online and there is no way to fill that need.”

The management is confident that the stores will have enough food for all shoppers. “We’re well-stocked; we’re not worried about serious shortages of anything that’s critical. It’s just managing people’s expectations and trying to get people to understand that we’re really doing the best we can. It’s not a matter of us not wanting to spend money.”

In fact, the store is offering Purell at cost price. “A supplier tried to sell me a load of Purell at $7 a bottle and told me I could charge at least $14. We said we would never ever do that. He said, ‘I wish all my customers would say that!’”

In addition to ensuring safety and maximum efficiency, Evergreen has another concern. “We want to keep the mood up,” the manager says. “It’s an important thing. I have a customer who came in and mentioned that she shopped at Costco and everyone there was in a depressed, serious, sad mood. You come in here and there’s a Yom Tov mood – the Yom Tov music is still on, there’s still chicken and meat on the shelves, and people are shopping for Yom Tov.”

And above all, they try to keep their eye on the ball. “We just have to trust Hashem and know that Pesach is coming. We are going to set up a seder and eat whatever matzoh we will eat. We daven really hard that we are good shluchim for the community, while trying really hard to keep our employees and customers safe, happy, and healthy. I have employees that are coming to work every day, working through the night, stocking shelves. They are heroes – really heroes! What is coming in the next few weeks, I don’t know. But I do know that we’re committed to being here for the community, and though we’re all afraid of what every shopper is afraid of, we are doing the best we can.”

— Margie Pensak


A New Halachic Era

“Come up with contingency plans and modify the Pesach preparations to a bare minimum. This Pesach, you’re going to be machmir on pikuach nefesh”

President Trump says the coronavirus pandemic has turned him into a wartime president. The soldiers battling that war are healthcare workers and first responders.

But leading the Torah-observant homefront are the community’s rabbanim. The questions that have poured into the phones and emails of rabbanim, says Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, the rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin in Flatbush, are unlike any other he recalls in his decades of rabbanus.

So are the psakim. No minyanim, not even on porches or in backyards. No physically taking care of elderly parents. Cleaning for Pesach? Just the bare minimum.

Rav Lieff, formerly a rav in Minneapolis, said that he and other rabbanim have radically changed their lives over the past few weeks. He makes a point of calling each member of his kehillah every few days. He was mesader kedushin at a chasunah that had twenty people, “and that’s including the photographer, caterer and musicians,” wearing a face mask. And they are dealing with a heartbreaking new array of halachic queries.

“This is a very unique time and a difficult challenge for the sandwich generation,” Rav Lieff says. “Many people in the kehillah are taking care of their parents, and at the same time they’re taking care of their children, and in many cases grandchildren. There are so many unique shailos.

“Do I visit my father? Can I be involved in physically caring for them? Is it pikuach nefesh? How many heterim can I rely on with Pesach cleaning? Can I have my married children over? They’ve never made Pesach themselves in their lives. If not, what kind of flavor will the Seder have when my wife and I are sitting there alone?”

For those concerned about ignoring family chumros, Rav Lieff’s psak reframed the question from “what are we going to do about chumras on Pesach?” to “how can we be machmir on pikuach nefesh?”

“Come up with contingency plans,” he advises, “and modify the Pesach preparations to a bare minimum. Sell even chometz gamur or things you would never normally sell. Now you’re going to be machmir on pikuach nefesh.”

Ever since the Be’er Heitev included a promise from the Arizal that “whoever avoids even a speck of chametz will not sin that year,” Yidden have made a point of adding chumra upon chumra to hilchos Pesach.

Never mind that meforshim struggle to locate the source for this Arizal, and Rav Pinchos Koritzer was “angered,” according to Imrei Pinchos, that the Be’er Heitev wrote it was a promise when the Arizal said it was merely an “aid” not to sin. The pious — the Rosh refers to them as “Yisrael kedoshim heim” — would not eat matzah that touched any surface, no matter how clean; avoided a large variety of products, from fruit, peeled vegetables and dairy; and would not rely on utensils even if they were kashered.

That’s not the right approach this year. Rav Lieff is recommending that people use disposable plates and cups and sell if necessary new utensils to a non-Jew for thirty days since keilim mikvaos are closed. He is permitting all medications that don’t have a good taste, a siyum bechorim over the phone if someone can’t finish a masechta on his own, and recommending that people sell their chometz by mailing the shtar to the rav and appointing him a shaliach over the phone.

“If anyone is machmir every year not to sell chometz gamur,” he said, “this year he should be machmir to sell chometz gamur.”

Some of the most unique shailos Rav Lieff encounters concern shidduchim and marriage. People have been donating their private yards for dates, and he has been mesader kiddushin at several chasunahs that counted just a bare minyan. He was forced to pasken for a chassan who was not feeling well to push off the wedding.

“These are shailos I’ve certainly not been hearing before,” Rav Lieff said in wonder. “This is a new era.”

He prefers that people get married with just ten people present rather than postpone a wedding. This was the guidance he gave a member of his kehillah who has two daughters getting married back to back.

“The tachlis of a wedding is to be married,” he noted. “Tell the Ribbono shel Olam, ‘This should be an event with hundreds of people, with flowers, crowds and the entire family. But I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Hashem, pay me back with good things in my life.’”

The concept of being forced to daven at home alone is one that is particularly distressing to people, Rav Lieff notes. Some people have tried getting around it by making porch minyanim. The rav says he no longer allows that.

“The guidelines have to be black and white,” he says. “It has to be distancing of not just six feet but the sort of distancing that ensures you really cannot connect with anybody else in any way. Also, consider the chillul Hashem. The outside community looks at all of us as one. If we’re going to be lax and lackadaisical in the guidelines, it’s a terrible chillul Hashem. Besides for the fact that it’s dangerous.”

In Rav Lieff’s shul, he instituted set davening times so the congregants can maintain a semblance of tefillah b’tzibbur – though they’re all davening in their own homes. All the shiurim continue as usual, albeit by phone. Rav Lieff makes a point of calling people by name during the shiur, even though they cannot respond.

The bizarre upturning of communal life was only brought on by a calamity, but it is has brought out a certain transformation in people, Rav Lieff observed.

He was especially moved when a mispallel walked into his office, put down $5,000 and said this was for those suffering from the effects of the weakened economy. But more than anything else, Rav Lieff has observed a tremendous growth in tefillah.

“People don’t take tefillah for granted anymore,” he says. “Davening in our kehillah started – albeit remotely — at 9 this past Shabbos. Many people told me that they finished at 12, 12:30. It’s also a time that if you have children at home, daven with them. Go through the pesukei d’zimra with them as the Shulchan Aruch says, as if you’re counting diamonds. When you daven loudly and there are no distractions, it’s unbelievable how you connect with Hashem.”

Rav Lieff told his kehillah that the two holy brothers, Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rav Zisha of Anipoli, were once in prison together during their journeys. Rav Elimelech wanted to daven but Rav Zisha pointed to a pail of refuse in the corner that precluded him from tefillah.

The brothers began to dance. “The same Eibishter that commanded us to daven b’tzibbur is now commanding us not to daven,” they said.

“And,” Rav Lieff added, “the same way that you looked forward to davening in shul you should now look forward to being mekayeim the mitzvah of saving lives and daven at home. The Eibishter is now saying, ‘Yankel must daven at home.’”

Rav Lieff is already preparing his shiur for when the virus ends and everyone returns to shul.

“We’re going to be better people because of this,” he predicted. “I don’t want to hear any talking bein gavra l’gavra. I don’t want to see anybody looking even remotely at his phone. You have to earn this.”

— Yochonon Donn

New Clothing? Not a Priority

“More and more people are choosing not to buy clothes. They’ll wear winter clothes or pajamas. They don’t care”

Riding on the wings of the approaching spring season, Pesach traditionally brings a promise of new beginnings – and new wardrobes for the entire family. This year, that’s hardly the priority. Mindy Lang owns four brick-and-mortar stores along with two websites, under the ShirtStop and Double Header names. Half of the ShirtStop yearly sales are made online, with at least one customer in every U.S. state. Still, her business has taken a big hit due to the coronavirus.

“We’re losing customers,” she says, “both because people want to come in and touch and try things on, and also because people have lost jobs and they can’t afford new clothes.”

The week of March 16 saw a 700 percent increase in phone sales from last year’s Post-Purim numbers. Normally, though, it’s the following week that’s the biggest and busiest. Out-of-towners tend to wake up then and make their Pesach orders, she says. But this year, the familiar pattern was interrupted by corona. More and more people are choosing not to buy clothes. “They’ll wear winter clothes or pajamas,” Mindy says. “They don’t care.”

In the brick-and-mortar locations, Mindy saw decreased sales even before her stores were closed to walk-in customers. Many would-be shoppers were legitimately nervous to go out; others were home sick. Now, however, she’s paying rent on four empty stores. And that reality brought a heart-breaking and difficult task: Mindy had to lay off 50 percent of her in-store staff. It hurt—but the company simply couldn’t afford to pay them with the stores closed. Some employees do remain; their job is to go in and pack up the boxes for shipping.

ShirtStop orders merchandise six months in advance. (They’ve already ordered their Succos stock). Mindy sees the company as likely having to run big sales once things calm down, and then getting left with overstock.

While phone and web sales have certainly shot up, many of those sales aren’t really worthwhile, at least in terms of hard money. “If someone has a dress and wants to buy socks that match,” Mindy explains, “they would usually walk in to the store and find a matching shade in five minutes; on the phone, it takes twenty minutes of scrolling through. And everyone is looking to pinch pennies now. You could spend half an hour on the phone and the customer leaves with just five pairs of socks.”

So why is she keeping at it? Part of it is maintaining the customer service she’s known for. But that’s not all. “It’s crazy now for everyone,” she says. “If customers are reaching out and trying to bring simchas Yom Tov to their homes, then I care that they should have one nice thing for Yom Tov and feel good!”

— Leeba Leichtman

Stitch by Stitch

“Certain alterations simply can’t be done without the customer trying it on – and those jobs I have to turn down. Health and safety come before new Yom Tov outfits”

 Here’s what hasn’t changed: everyone wants their new clothing altered in time for Yom Tov.

Here’s what has changed: everything else.

The influx of pre-Pesach calls that faced Chaya Leah Grunewald, a seamstress in Gateshead, UK, wasn’t unusual. What was different was the timing, and the tone. Requests for alterations came along with questions like my household will be out of quarantine next Wednesday, will you still be accepting jobs? And the rules of the game, she quickly learned, were subject to change at any time.

England didn’t take extreme corona measures at first. But the night before Boris Johnson’s scheduled address inaugurating the national lockdown, Chaya Leah received many panicked calls from customers worried that this was their last chance to get clothing altered before Yom Tov.

She determined not to accept any jobs from households in quarantine (where members are showing symptoms), so that instantly reduced her customer base. But the main difference was the panic. No longer were customers waiting for the last minute.

Practically speaking, maintaining the appropriate social distancing made alterations a lot more complicated. “Since I no longer had customers entering the house – for everyone’s protection – I ask them to describe over the phone exactly what they want done,” she says. “Where possible, they pin their own garments at home – sometimes, I’ll have them do it over video-call so I can see and guide them in preparing the clothes for alterations. Certain jobs simply can’t be done without the customer trying it on – and those jobs I have to turn down. Health and safety come before new Yom Tov outfits.”

Here’s what drop-off and pick-up look like: A ring on the doorbell. A bag on the doorstep. A customer backing off, and standing 6 feet away to wait for the door to open. All other communication is by phone, until pick-up, where the ready garment is left in a bag outside right before the customer returns to pick it up. And payment is mostly by bank transfer.

It’s not clear how long germs can linger on garments (what is clear about this virus, anyway?). So Chaya Leah wears gloves while working (unless the material is exceptionally delicate) and constantly cleans off and wipes down all equipment: sewing machine, serge machine, iron, seam-rippers.

So what’s changed? Sewing under corona conditions is more complicated, more uncertain, more challenging. “But for as long as I can,” she says, “for as long as we all can, we’ll continue to work to make everyone’s Yom Tov beautiful.”

— Rochel Samet

Table for Two

Our Seder without the children and grandchildren will be lonely. Pesach is a time to be with family. But we’ll have to acclimate

For Rabbi Joshua and Claire Hertzberg, this Pesach will be the first time in many years that they’ll be sitting down to a Seder set for two. Sixty-five years, to be exact.

“The loneliest seder we ever had was in the second year of our marriage,” recalls Rabbi Hertzberg — or, as I’m privileged to call him, Saba. My grandparents, both native Baltimoreans, had moved to Queens, N.Y. the previous summer, when my grandfather assumed his new position of shul rabbi. That Pesach, it was just the two of them at home, along with their two-month-old baby. As time went on, their family grew, and, together with guests from their shul, their seder table became a lively place.

Once my grandfather retired and they moved to their current apartment in Kew Gardens Hills, they were so sure their Pesach making days were over that they gave away their Pesach dishes and cookware. For the last 20-some years, they’ve spent Pesach with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, just as Pesach should be spent. Up until a few weeks ago, that was the plan this year, as well. Then corona hit, and their children made it clear it was safest for them to stay home.

Their primary reaction? Disappointment. “Pesach is a time to be with family,” he avers.

Despite that disappointment, he says that they’ve been handling this crisis itself with equanimity.

“Do we feel like prisoners? Yes!” He laughs. My grandparents are extraordinarily active for their age, and are used to being out and about. Saba is still called upon to perform religious services such as funerals for former members of his shul.

But he’s sure they will acclimate; they’ve acclimated to a lot in the course of their lifetime.

How have they been handling the practical aspects of suddenly making Pesach? Their children have been doing the shopping for them, and they’ve already put in an order for food at the local takeout place. They’ll be using mostly paper goods, my grandmother tells me, though they will be borrowing a few pots from my mother.

“It will be an interesting Pesach,” they say, and though it’s not the Pesach they’d imagined, or the Pesach that any of us had imagined, I know that they and all of us will get through it and gain something from the experience.

“So, Savta,” I tease. “You’ll be saying the Mah Nishtana?”

“Yes,” she shoots back at me. “I’ll ask, ‘Why is this Pesach different from all other Pesachs?’”

— Gila Arnold

Pesach Not By Design

“I sent my husband to buy a peeler and utensils but then I realized that I had no way to tovel them”

Corona fall-out hit Batya Dobkin’s family early on; her sister got married the night after the Israeli government announced its new restrictions limiting gatherings to only ten people. In just one day, the wedding was moved from a hall to their Ramat Beit Shemesh backyard, and the chasunah went from a small 100-person limit to an intimate simchah with family and close friends scattered outside.

Still, Batya, her husband Binyomin, and their 9-month-old baby spent a festive and enjoyable Shabbos sheva brachos with Batya’s family, and then went back home. At that point, they were fully expecting to rejoin her family for Pesach, if not sooner.

Just four days later, she realized that this wasn’t going to happen.

“When I first heard them announce the new restrictions that you can’t get together with your extended family for Pesach, I was kind of in denial,” says Batya. But by the time Nissan hit, she realized it was time to face the facts.

“I started making lists, trying to think of anything I could possibly need to make my own Pesach,” she relates. “That’s when I started freaking out.”

While she’d helped her mother make Pesach over the years, she quickly learned that it didn’t compare at all to being in charge of the effort, and she felt completely lost. “What helped me get through that initial panic was my husband’s attitude. He’s very chilled, and he kept saying, ‘It’ll be okay. This will be fun!’”

Batya is a caterer by profession, but the shopping and cooking seemed daunting — especially without any Pesach equipment. “I tried making a list of all the food and utensils I’d need. Chicken, meat, onions, carrots, potatoes, basic veggies, spices, potato chips, chocolate.”

Undertaking your first Pesach is a daunting feat whenever it happens. When it gets suddenly thrust upon you smack in the middle of a global pandemic, there are certain added complications.

Such as the lack of an open keilim mikvah.

“I bought a lot of disposable pans, but there are certain items that you can’t use disposable for, like a peeler. I’d sent my husband to buy all of these utensils, in one of his several emergency shopping trips, but then I realized that I had no way to tovel them.”

Luckily, her mother discovered a local hardware store with a keilim mikvah on premises that was still open. The store is only doing delivery orders at the moment, and as part of their service they tovel items before delivering them. Her mother put in an order and added some items for the Dobkins.

One upside to the imposed restrictions is that all the young couples living near Batya are in the same boat. “My next-door neighbor is also making Pesach for the first time,” she says. “So we’re doing this together.”

How does she feel about having the actual Seder with her small family at home?

“It will definitely be different,” she admits. “And strange to be away from my family, when I’ve been with them for almost every Pesach of my life.”

Still, she says, she thinks the experience will be an interesting one. Just like her sister’s wedding, which proved that small and intimate had its own special beauty, she says she’s looking forward to making a Seder at home with just her, her husband and their baby daughter.

— Gila Arnold

Singing to a New Audience

as told to Yisroel Besser by Joey Newcomb

When you’re moving from gig to gig, farbrengen to simchah to parlor meeting to melave malka, there isn’t much time to think. The guitar and speakers and address, is the voice okay, where will I set up, let’s roll. You’re moving.

Now, there’s time to think. Lots of time to think.

These weeks are perhaps the busiest of the year in my industry, Jewish music. Purim events go straight into a packed chasunah schedule, leading into bein hazmanim and then chol hamoed.

This year, I was scheduled to play six different shows on the first two days of chol hamoed alone, a few in Florida and some in New York.

We were gonna move, move, move.

Of course, they’ve all been cancelled, and this Pesach, instead of checking my watch, Waze, flights and traffic, I will be sitting around the living room with the kinderlach.

The unexpected halt in the flow of parnassah isn’t simple — most of us count on the events to get through the month, to pay the mortgage or rent, to make Shabbos; and without the revenue, it won’t be simple.

But the break comes along with an opportunity, which is to try to take the messages we share night after night, the chizuk we espouse in our niggunim, and internalize them.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve received a flood of videos of backyard weddings, just ten people surrounding a glowing chassan and kallah, with the very same song playing, our niggun, “Thank You Hashem.” It gave me great satisfaction, but it also left me humbled and asking questions.

“Yosef, can you do that? Do you have what it takes to say thank you Hashem when things aren’t going the way you hoped they would? Can you belt out that ‘Hapa’am odeh es Hashem’ when it isn’t someone else struggling, but you?”

I’ll tell you something interesting about this tekufah. We singer have been asked to step up our game during these weeks, to bring people simchah. I’ve done a whole bunch of videos and messages for bar mitzvah boys who had the celebration cancelled and many Zoom kumzitzes for adults, teenagers and kids. I kept the smile on my face and excitement in my voice, as best as I was able, but late one night, alone in the kitchen at the end of one such farbrengen, the iPad powered down and I was left with a question.

We’re giving chizuk to others, but who’s giving us chizuk?

Last week, a talented musician and great guy, Dov Katz, did a Zoom game show just for us, the singers, and our families. It was special because it addresses this need — we also need someone to make us smile.

So in short, how is this Pesach different than others? This Pesach will be about singing to a new audience.


I’ll have the time and space to really think about emunah, to schmooze with the family about life, to focus on creating simchas Yom Tov inside, rather than outside.

It will be different, but it’s as special as it’s scary. So you know what? Hapa’am, this time — for this time, during this time, davka — odeh es Hashem.

Thank you Hashem.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 805)

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