Linda Friedman doesn’t want to do a Passover seder by herself.
“It just won’t be festive,” she said.
In case her fear of a solo seder comes to pass, at least she is ready with a Haggadah that she recently picked up from Robin Meyerson, co-director of Project Inspire Arizona and chair of the Shabbos Project Arizona.
Meyerson has been feeling people’s distress. “Passover number two during a global pandemic — who could have imagined that we would be here?”
Meyerson decided to take some action that might inspire people to find joy in the holiday despite the difficulties of the past year. She also realized a lot of people might be celebrating alone. To make things a bit easier for those having a harder time this year, she has been giving away Haggadot all month.
About three years ago, the Phoenix Community Kollel was giving away more than 100 Haggadot and Meyerson immediately picked them up with the idea of finding people who really needed them. This year especially she has enjoyed being able to help people in this small way.
“It’s been an opportunity to meet people and they are also so excited,” she said. “Haggadahs are expensive!” She has a variety — some are pocket-sized and some are illustrated.
Friedman happened to be at Meyerson’s house for another reason when she learned Meyerson was giving Haggadot away and decided to take one home. To her pleasant surprise, one of the sets Meyerson had is the same one Friedman used growing up.
“I picked mine out from a few because it’s the one I used as a small child, the one I learned on with my family and the one that my school would give out when we were little,” said Friedman, who grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Friedman has moved around a lot and hopes to keep this one safe. She wouldn't want to lose it in another move.
Robert Steinhauer received 30 Haggadot from Meyerson, with the intention of spreading them around, too. “We have a lot of friends that are interested in learning more about Passover,” Steinhauer said, so this year they will host a seder to celebrate the holiday and educate people at the same time.
They aren’t sure exactly how many people will come, but “it’s always good to have extra” Haggadot. Guests can take them home in case they know somebody else who needs one.
Meyerson also has some general tips for getting people “in the mood” for the upcoming holiday after living through “our own plague.”
She advises people to spend time thinking and learning about Passover before the big event. That will help build excitement, akin to the anticipation of a wedding, she said — maybe even decorate.
“Seal off all the chametz by closing off the kitchen cabinets with decorated sheets of paper with the 10 plagues,” she said.
And, of course, make sure to have a Haggadah.
“It’s important to me to give them out so people can get used to doing it in their own home,” Meyerson said. “It might seem really overwhelming and scary to do a seder, but when you have a book it just gives you all the instructions.”
Meyerson is happy to see the pile of Haggadot she keeps in a box in her closet dwindling as the holiday approaches.
“They can be kept forever, or they can be shared with others,” she said. “My main goal is that they get used.” JN