Biden offers US Jews comfort ahead of a Passover plagued by coronavirus
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'This year's Seder table won't be the same'

Biden offers US Jews comfort ahead of a Passover plagued by coronavirus

Democratic presidential hopeful and his wife address 400 American Jewish leaders as they prepare to celebrate the holiday while social distancing

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a primary election night campaign rally in Los Angeles, March 3, 2020. (Chris Carlson/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a primary election night campaign rally in Los Angeles, March 3, 2020. (Chris Carlson/AP)

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden spoke to nearly 400 American Jewish leaders in a conference call Tuesday, offering words of comfort ahead of a Passover plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.

The former vice president surprised the call’s participants, who were expecting only to be addressed by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. Speaking from their home in Wilmington, Delaware, the two sought to assure the Jewish community that it would persevere through the viral outbreak that has upended the world.

“You know, Jewish people have been through so very, very much over 4,000 years,” Biden said. “It is absolute resilience, stamina, and faith that has carried us through.”

“We’re going to get through this godawful pandemic that we’re dealing with,” he added. “We’re going to come out better for it. We’re going to learn from it, God willing.”

The Bidens also recognized that many Jewish families would be celebrating their Passovers alone to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 disease.

“I know for most of you, this year’s Seder table won’t be the same without the noise of grandchildren or the embrace of a parent, without the circle of faces who bring that tradition to life,” Jill Biden said. “Instead, we’ll make do with phone calls and virtual hangouts. We’ll practice our rituals alone. We’ll take comfort in knowing that we miss each other together. And we’ll be reminded that our families and our faith can span any distance. We are apart, but not alone.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, speaks to members of the press at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The conference call to Jewish leaders came with Biden still seeking to secure the Democratic nomination, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders remains in the race despite having far fewer pledged delegates.

The campaign has largely been overshadowed by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Biden has been vying to remain relevant by hosting virtual conferences from his home in Delaware and making television appearances. Later on Tuesday night, he will be on CNN.

During the call, Biden made no mention of the politics of the moment or US President Donald Trump, against whom he is expecting to face off in the general election.

The former Delaware senator was introduced in the call by Rabbi Michael Beals, who leads Wilmington’s Temple Beth Shalom and with whom Biden has a personal relationship.

Biden said he has had Beals over to his home and suggested he would invite him to his new home next year, should he win in November.

“Rabbi Beals, we miss you,” he said. “I miss you. But if, in fact, I go beyond this point in my career, get ready for an invitation to another house.”

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