The ‘prose’ and cons of Pesach spent in isolation

By Johnny Cohen

MY wife Judy and I had a Zoom poetry session with our grandchildren in Borehamwood, Joseph nine, seven-year-old Sophia and Ezra four, for which all of us, including their parents Ben and Victoria Dadds, each had to learn a poem, if possible composing one ourselves.

To my great surprise, Victoria’s choice was the poem at the end of this article, which I had sent to the children just before the first seder.

I hope that its publication will not offend the ‘Lewis Carroll Society of Great Britain’.

Rather more significant is their current family effort to raise funds for Child Bereavement UK, which in part was motivated in memory of our son Richard, who passed away, aged 16, in 1992.

Recalling that I had particpated many years ago in climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the One to One Children’s Fund (, they are now engaged in collectively walking 128,263 steps, equivalent to the Kilimanjaro ascent

Victoria’s message on their justgiving page reads: “Always up for a challenge, Joseph, Sophia and Ezra, along with Ben and I, have decided to follow in their grandpa’s footsteps up to the summit of Kilimanjaro — all without leaving Borehamwood!

“It may prove to be quite a challenge — I’m not sure we’ve averaged more than 100 steps a day since lockdown commenced, but over the next 30 days we collectively need to step 128,263 times to reach the top of the mountain.

“While we’re getting fit, keeping busy, and exploring the delights of Africa, we’re also supporting the amazing charity Child Bereavement UK. Having had first-hand experience of bereavement as a child, I know how devastating it is for all the family and so we’re happy that by taking on this challenge we are helping Child Bereavement UK with the important work they do.”

Donate at

Smiling Johnny (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

Twas Pesach and the lonely haggadot
Did lie upon the table spare:
All pristine, used not a jot,
And chairs too left sadly bare

“Beware the coronavirus, my family
The infections mild or lethal
Beware the family Coronaviridae,
The genome size pretty minimal

He took his ventilator in hand;
All day the club-shaped spikes he fought,
So together with an ampersand
Not in Latin but Hebrew he thought

And, then, with seder plate in order,
The Smiling J, with Jude there too
Came eagerly with matzo
Pieces three not two

Different questions, different night
Tho’ children none not four
His approach brought new insight
And eager Judy added more

And did you follow the traditional text?
Sticking to the Torah’s theme
Or must we guess what comes next
In Smiling J’s Passover dream

‘Twas Pesach and the lonely haggadot
Did lie upon the table spare:
All pristine, used not a jot,
And chairs too left sadly bare.

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