As we approach the first major religious holidays during the coronavirus shelter in place, families will need to shift their activities to meet the new reality as they celebrate Passover for seven or eight days starting on the evening of April 8 and Easter on April 12.
Luckily, many families already have at-home traditions, from indoor or backyard egg hunts to family Seders. Inviting extended family and friends is out, as is physically attending a religious service. But there are still ways to acknowledge the holidays and make them special. Here are some ideas to help you get started. Share your ideas by emailing [email protected] and we’ll add them to this story.
Families, of course, can celebrate a Seder at home – though whether to include far-flung family and friends over Facetime or Zoom is the subject of some debate, as orthodox Jews eschew the use of technology during holidays and the sabbath.
The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is offering a Seder in Place through Zoom on Wed., April 8, at 6 p.m. “We’re taking it all the way back to the first Passover, when our ancestors were stranded in their homes, isolated, biding their time for the perfect moment to leave,” their announcement says. (Sound familiar?) It will include interactive sessions with small breakout groups. Space is limited and advance reservation is requested.
The JCC East Bay has lots of fun resources on its website, from a downloadable Crafting the Passover Seder workshop in which you can make interactive Seder objects to Broadway Passover sing-along songs.
Local musician Isaac Zones is also offering music through a Passover-inspired music class recorded on his Facebook page and Shabbat song sessions held on Fridays at 5:30 p.m.
If you’relooking for community service ideas, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties has already delivered more than 1,000 Passover Care Packages full of Seder foods and pantry essentials to homebound seniors, people with disabilities and families. They’re seeking donations to their Community Emergency Fund.
The PJ Library, a Jewish nonprofit that sends out free books, has resources on its website – including Jewish arts and crafts and recipes – as well as sing-alongs and storytimes of titles including Pinky Bloom and the Case of the Missing Kiddush Cup and Alligator Seder! on its Facebook page and Instagram account.
Check with your favorite local bookstore to see if they’re offering online storytimes or themed book bundles for Passover or Easter.
If your kids love taking photos with the Easter Bunny, but you can’t head to the mall, you can create a virtual one, for a fee, at Picture Me Bunny. Families with Photoshop skills can create something unique at home instead.
While large public egg hunts have been cancelled, the City of Richmond is holding a Virtual Egg Hunt and Coloring Contest
through April 12. Participants can download a free Easter egg printable, color it and place it in their window, then share their own artwork on social media or go on neighborhood egg hunts to find others’ eggs to share. Ten randomly drawn winners will receive a gift basket or Target gift card.
You can also get ready and build excitement for the holiday with fun crafts. There are lots of options online using everyday materials. If you have yarn and a balloon, you can make your own Easter baskets with this fun project from Lakeshore Learning.
You don’t need a fancy egg dying kit to color eggs. Food coloring works just fine or, in a pinch, kids can paint or even color with crayons on hard-boiled eggs. To dye eggs with food color, add 10 to 20 drops to a half-cup of boiling water and one teaspoon vinegar.
Hide your dyed eggs or filled plastic ones around your home or yard for a traditional egg hunt, or increase the excitement (and time to finish) by creating a scavenger hunt with clues to find each egg, culminating with an Easter basket. You can also make a jellybean trail from your child’s bed or door to their basket. (Just don’t wait and rely on two-day shipping or delivery if you still need candy.)
If you’ve already purchased special clothes for Easter, or just want to make the day extra-special, dress up for your brunch or dinner at home, just like you would on a normal holiday.
For silly fun, consider a family Easter bonnet parade through your home, yard or neighborhood. Pull hats from your costume bin or compete to see who can make the fanciest one from a paper plate, ribbons, bows and other materials.
While extended family can’t gather this Easter, by now we’ve all gotten pretty adept at meeting virtually via Zoom, FaceTime or other online tools. Invite grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends to join you at a special meal or just for a check-in.
If you’re looking to attend an Easter service, many churches have moved their services online. Check with your local church to see if it has, too. Here are some options:
• San Francisco’s Episcopal Grace Cathedral will stream its Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist here on April 12 at 11 a.m. here.
• Glide Memorial is streaming its Sunday services on Facebook at 9 and 11 a.m. here. Check here for more information.
• The Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco has links to livestream Masses from St. Mary’s Cathedral and other churches throughout the diocese (San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties).
The Catholic Diocese of San Jose has its Holy Week and Easter schedule
and will be livestreaming on
• The South Bay’s Cathedral of Faith will be broadcasting its Easter Service on NBC Bay Area, Channel 11, from 9-10 a.m. Click here for more information and streaming times.