By: Tzivy Reiter, LCSW
Director of Children’s Services, OHEL
These are extraordinary times. We are all celebrating a Pesach that we never imagined was possible. A Seder table without grandparents, a chol hamoed without trips, a Yom Tov that has been preceded with unimaginable stress and pain. Yet Pesach is upon us. Our children are watching, listening and expecting us to show them the way. How can we make this Pesach special, despite all the stress and uncertainty? How can we include our grandparents, relatives and friends in our Yom Tov celebrations, even though we are forced apart? Here are Ten Tips to make this Pesach special and keep us connected to our loved ones during the Pesach of Covid-19.
Make an early virtual seder with young children and grandparents isolated at home. Consider it a dress rehearsal for the highlights of the Seder Let the grandparents see their kids in their yom tov clothes, hear the Ma Nishtana, and have a memory to draw upon when they have to do it later that night alone.
Send a care package to grandparents in advance of the Seder. Include drawings, letters, divrei torah, even Pesach jokes that they can read at their actual Seder. You can email this if it can’t be delivered.
Have an extended family zoom call on Erev Pesach, giving chizuk to those alone and sending them extra love and care to sustain them throughout the first days of the Chag.
Place a photo of loved ones at your table so they can be represented even if they can’t be there physically. Talk about a memory of when they participated in Seder’s past. Ask them to write you a message that you can read at the Seder Let your kids know that just because someone is not there physically, they are still very much a part of your family and a part of your Seder
- Practice gratitude: Print out OHEL’s smile club printables, including Magical Matzohs, which prompts kids to list 3 things they’re grateful for. Read them at the Seder https://www.wizadjournal.com/ohel-covid19/?id=4770
For the little ones: Read books with your children like “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst, that teaches the idea that we are connected by invisible strings of love that are much more powerful than anything tangible.
Prepare some photo albums to look at over Yom Tov. Kids love to look at pictures of themselves as babies, and of their parents and grandparents when they were younger. This is something we rarely have the time to do. It’s a great way to pass the time, and gives the opportunity to relate family stories and anecdotes around the photos. More importantly, it will create feelings of connection and positivity that your children will long remember.
Give your children something new and exciting to look forward to each day. This can be a new game or toy that you will play together, or a Yom Tov Party with a snack they haven’t tasted before.
There are many wonderful virtual entertainment options that have been widely circulated. There are lots of opportunities, for virtual trips to the zoo, the aquarium, farm, concerts and more. Or you can do something simple such as going camping in your living room or doing a family Chopped challenge. Be creative and model for your children that you are capable of making lemonade out of lemons. More important than the actual entertainment venue, is the art of presence. They will long remember the family hunkered down together at home, spending attuned and focused time together, more than the actual activity.
Create a jar, for each member of your family to place a “coupon” for one activity, outing or trip they would like to take. Let them know that this coupon will be redeemed as soon as you are able to. This gives kids hope and reminds them that every crisis has a beginning, a middle and an end. Covid-19, too, will have an end. Better todays will come again.