ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — As Easter weekend approaches, it’s not the only holiday in town.

Jewish people across the world will celebrate Passover, or Pesach, tomorrow evening, but with the holiday focused around close family gatherings, COVID concerns are rife within the community.

Rabbi Oren Steinitz, the leader of Congregation Kol Ami in Elmira, plans to hold off on hosting their community Seder this year, instead electing to have it held virtually.

We really really hope that next year we’ll be back to having a grand communal Seder here on the second night.

Rabbi Oren Steinitz – Congregation Kol Ami

Rabbi Steinitz also hopes that next year will see a return to normal for the Jewish Food Festival that he and his Congregation put on, where people near and far come for delicious home cooked traditional Jewish foods like Latkes, Hamentashen, Kugel, Knishes, and more.

The Seder, a traditional symbolic dinner held on the first two nights of Passover, is typically held in the home. The faithful eat unleavened bread, called Matzoh, among other things to help reconnect with the past.

The story goes that the Hebrew people, also called Israelites, were enslaved in Egypt until God brought down plagues upon Pharaoh and his people. The final plague, death of the first born son, was avoided by Jews by putting lambs blood on the door, signaling to God to “pass over” their home, leaving them unharmed. After this final plague, Pharaoh set the Hebrews free and allowed them to leave Egypt, something now known as the Exodus.

However you plan on celebrating Passover, Easter, or just a nice spring weekend, we hope you do it safely and enjoyably. Chag Sameach!