Jake Cohen, self-proclaimed “nice Jewish boy,” is determined to celebrate Passover virtually this year. The editorial director of The Feedfeed and Instagram hotshot has some very particular ideas about how to make your seder delicious and memorable even if your friends and family can’t join you. (It’s worth noting that although electricity is frowned upon among certain Jewish denominations, many Orthodox and Conservative rabbis have given the OK to use video chats for Passover 2020.) The Feedfeed, Jake’s website, Wake & Jake, and our recipe library are good sources for recipe ideas. Jake’s Coconut-Halva Macaroons (recipe following) make an especially nice addition to the celebration.
How is your Passover seder changing during this time of social distancing?
This year, I’ll be cooking for my husband, sister, and brother-in-law since we’re neighbors in the same building. We’ll be having a Zoom seder through the incredible nonprofit OneTable, where I’m a board member, which has launched Seder2020.org to help families connect with Zoom links for seder and digital Haggadot. This year my family will just have to all connect from afar.
What advice would you give to someone hosting a “virtual” seder?
Use this as a moment of connection and self-care. Passover is all about celebrating freedom and community, so there’s no reason why you can’t do it via video chat. It’s a great excuse to dress up (I’ve been in athleisure wear for weeks) and catch up with loved ones who may be alone on the holidays.
How can you use food or drink to tie together the participants of a virtual seder?
Wine is crucial since you need four cups for seder. You might as well aim for five to six cups with everything going on. As for the meal, you can totally cook the same recipe to feel that kinship over nourishment, but I think the mantra to stand by is dayenu. This seder song translates to “It would have been enough,” referring to Exodus, but same goes for whatever you can make for dinner. Yes, try to make it special (I’m throwing together a brisket and latkes), but don’t get bogged down in the details. Whatever you can get and make will be enough!
If your physical seder is small, how could your table setting include people you care about, even if they aren’t with you in person?
We will be setting seats for six to have place settings for our laptops to give a full view of our seder to chat with family. It’s a fun way to remind everyone that even when apart, you’re at the same table.
Any other ideas for Passover this year in such a unique situation?
I’ll be going live on Instagram with Passover prep to chat with anyone who may be alone on Passover and looking for a little companionship. Now is the perfect time to pause and think about who really could use a check-in, even if you haven’t spoken to them in a while.
There may be many people flying solo or “hosting” for the first time this Passover. Any advice for seder rookies?
Don’t overthink it! Use the resources available and have fun. If that means matzo pizza for two and a computer printout of a seder plate, BLESS!
• 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
• 1 bag (12 oz) unsweetened shredded coconut
• 2 tablespoons coconut flour or matzo meal
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 2 eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup halva crumbles
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, shredded coconut, coconut flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the cinnamon, cardamom, and the egg yolks until smooth.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to stiff peaks. Fold into the coconut mixture, followed by the halva.
- Scoop 2 tablespoon mounds of the mixture onto the sheet pans, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using a small bowl of water, dip a 3-inch ring cutter in the water, then one at a time, roll around the edges to bring the melted halva into a tighter mound.
- Return to the oven and continue to bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and repeat rolling with the ring cutter to make perfectly round macaroons. Let cool completely, then serve.