Bangor, ME – In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping across the nation, Joseph Schlott was excited, if somewhat skeptical, when he saw on Facebook that his local Messianic synagogue, Congregation Beth Messiah, would be livestreaming a virtual Seder for their members. Sadly, what started as a wonderful alternative for those stuck in solitude turned into a source of considerable frustration before the night had ended.
“I was really looking forward to it,” said Schlott. “I live alone, and of course we’re all social distancing these days. I would have felt pretty silly reading the Hagaddah out loud alone in my apartment, but the answers to the four questions and the explanations of the elements are just so essential to Passover that I don’t think I could bring myself to skip them. So when they announced that they were taking the congregational Seder virtual, I was thrilled—finally, a congregational Seder worth attending! But I did have one major concern, which was that the Afikomen hunt wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Turns out I was right to be worried about it, but not for that reason.”
The trouble began when the Rabbi paused the proceedings for a few minutes to give the children at home a chance to find the Afikomen. “I knew it wouldn’t be much of a challenge since I’d be both hiding and finding it, but it’s a crucial part of the Seder, right?” said Schlott. “So anyway, I was about to go hide it, when I realized I didn’t have a clue where I’d last put it down. So then I’m looking all over the place for it, and next thing I know the Rabbi’s starting the Seder up again. There wasn’t a way to pause it, so I had to back out of the thing.”
Nearly an hour later, Schlott finally recovered the missing piece of matzah, which had become buried in the recesses of his couch, alongside his previously misplaced keys. Although he’d missed the rest of the livestream, he decided to finish the Seder by pulling up the archived footage, which he reports wasn’t without its additional difficulties. “When I finally found the thing and went back to the video, it started from the beginning. It took me forever to find the right part. All in all, a pretty frustrating end to an unusual night.”
However, when asked if he’d attend another virtual Seder in the future should the need arise, Schlott was open to the possibility. “Obviously I’m hoping that all my future Seders will be in person, surrounded by family and friends, the way it should be. But if we had a situation like this again? Yeah, I think I’d give it another shot. It certainly beats monologuing the whole thing to an empty room like a lunatic. Besides, I gave myself fifty bucks for the Afikomen once I found it; it’s hard to argue with a payout like that.”
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