Nashville Jewish community prepares for Passover amid social distancing

Rabbi Joshua Kullock and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson participated in a Passover tradition April 8 while practicing social distancing guidelines. (Courtesy Metro Nashville)
Rabbi Joshua Kullock and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson participated in a Passover tradition April 8 while practicing social distancing guidelines. (Courtesy Metro Nashville)

Rabbi Joshua Kullock and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson participated in a Passover tradition April 8 while practicing social distancing guidelines. (Courtesy Metro Nashville)

April 8 marks the first night of Passover for members of the Jewish faith, but this year, Nashville's Jewish residents will not be able to observe the holiday as they have in years past.

Passover begins April 8 and ends April 16. The Jewish holiday is held to commemorate the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. The eight-night observation includes feasts, or seders, and bars the consumption of leavened breads.

These dinners are typically held with family and friends; however, with guidelines from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for residents to limit gatherings of more than 10 people, many community members are turning to virtual celebrations.

Congregation Micah in Brentwood will host an online Passover Seder on April 8 via Facebook Live. Rabbi Laurie Rice discussed changes to this year’s celebration in a morning press briefing with Metro Nashville officials.

“Redemption from slavery to freedom, which is essentially a narrative about hope, is what this holiday is all about,” Rice said. “But it’s also a story about God’s protection, and here’s the thing: Hope and divine protection are not enough for us this year. Our role in this story is more is more important than ever because we know that one of the biggest issues with COVID-19 is that you can have it but ... not know that you do," Rice said. "If you truly want to be a partner with God in the ongoing betterment of the world, stay home and wash your hands.”


The synagogue is also hosting virtual services as well as weekly meditations via Facebook live.

Nashville-specific Passover traditions will also continue, with a few precautions taken.

Metro Nashville officials announced April 8 the coronavirus would not interfere with its 26-year tradition with the West End Synagogue near downtown Nashville to get rid of chametz—leavened food products, such as breads, cereals and baked goods—before the holiday.

Rabbi Joshua Kullock met with Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson outside the synagogue the morning of April 8 so that Anderson could ceremoniously purchase the products from the congregation. The ceremony was held outdoors, with both men wearing face masks and standing 6 feet apart as a precaution to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

The products will be brought back by Kullock next week, according to an announcement from Metro Nashville.

The West End Synagogue is also holding online services via Facebook live and Zoom.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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