How is the seder different from all other seders?
For many, Passover last year was their first encounter with Zoom and the technical difficulties that can make hard times even harder. If you are having a virtual or hybrid seder this year, consider these four questions to avoid the glitches that threaten to plague your pesach.
- At all other seders, we have one leader. Why on this seder, do we need two?
Designate someone – who is not already in charge of the service or the soup – for "remote control." Their job is to troubleshoot the issues that are bound to arise as you make your way through the haggadah. Just be kind and careful not to get salt water (or actual tears) on the keyboard.
2. At all other seders, we see parsley in people's teeth. Why on this seder, do we see up their noses?
Everyone should make sure they are camera ready, at least from the waist up. Laptops or tablets are better than phones, both for seeing and being seen. Make sure that your device is stable and at a practical (flattering) angle. Leaning it against your wine glass is a bad idea for a varietal of reasons. And, remember, this is family not a company-wide meeting (that could have been an email), so don't be that guy and turn your camera off or that other guy and spend too much time staring at yourself on screen.
3. At all other seders, we hear many voices at once. Why on this seder, do we hear only one at a time?
First things first, make sure you can hear everyone and they can hear you. External speakers (and big screens for that matter) are great, as long as you are still close enough to the microphone. As long as there isn't too much background noise, you can use Speaker View. Or stick with Gallery View for the Brady Bunch effect, just keep in mind that you can only see four people at a time if you're zooming by phone – and when it comes to taking turns reading, the order people appear on your screen is not the same as how you appear on theirs.
4. At all other seders, the length of the service is unpredictable. Why on this seder, is the service either longer than or shorter than 40 minutes?
Free Zoom accounts have a 40-minute time limit. Beyond deciding whether you're going to upgrade (or use a different video conferencing service), be candid about your endurance for Exodus. Most of us have spent far more time "on screen" over the past year than we ever anticipated or wanted. If you want to go the distance with a traditional seder and a captive on-screen audience, just make sure your devices are charged and your chairs are reclined. Or maybe you want to focus everyone's limited attention spans socializing and sharing good news from wherever you are in the wide world.
Next year, in person!