CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, some South Jersey Jewish families are quickly making last-minute changes to their Passover plans. People in the South Jersey community say they are hosting Seder outside because of the nice weather, while other families are planning to keep to traditions from before the pandemic.
For Ellen Feist’s family, the first night of Passover represents her and her husband’s sides of the family gathering around one Seder table to share in each side’s traditions.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Gun Violence Epidemic Continues To Have Devastating Impact On City's Youth
“Not too big around nine people, but definitely bigger than in previous years,” Ellen Feist said via Zoom.
She hoped this year’s Seder would be the same as before the pandemic, but she found out a few hours before Passover her family was exposed to COVID-19 last week.
Fortunately, since they’ve had no symptoms and it’s been more than five days since their exposure, the Feists are following through on their Seder.
“We are thankfully vaccinated and feel like we’ve come a long way, and hopefully we will all be OK,” Feist said.
Senior Rabbi Micah Peltz of Cherry Hill’s Temple Beth Sholom says many families are staring down similar choices.READ MORE: Here Is Where The Pennsylvania Primary Race For The Senate Seat Stands
“As cases have spiked in our area, I’ve noted there are more families, mine included, that are wondering about doing Sedars outside or maybe changing some plans again,” Rabbi Peltz said.
No matter what each family decides, Rabbi Peltz says Passover’s story of the enslaved Israelites leaving Egypt needs to be re-told every year.
“Having stories, values, being connected to a people really can help root us and help us understand what’s important, what our values are and help guide us through this complicated world,” Rabbi Peltz said.
Feist says those values will guide her family during their Seder.
“Passover is about freedom from slavery and so it’s nice to celebrate the freedom of being quarantined completely and be together,” Feist said.MORE NEWS: Recent Coastal Storm Uncovers Historic 'Ghost Tracks' On Higbee Beach In Cape May, And It's Not 1st Time
Even beyond Passover, Rabbi Peltz says once again they are requiring masks inside the synagogue as cases rise.