Barbra Streisand, Courtney B. Vance Among Stars Hosting Virtual Parties for Passover, Easter

Kevin Mazur/VF19/WireImage
James Brolin and Barbra Streisand

"2020 may well be the most poignant and wonderful celebration we've ever had," says Vance of plans with wife Angela Bassett.

Amid the safer-at-home order, L.A. synagogues and churches are broadcasting services online. “It reminds me of the 10 plagues. In the 10 plagues the Israelites were in their homes, and the only solution is somehow when we think of Passover the 10 plagues were replaced by the 10 commandments, and to me it says as follows: Our world has to change,” Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center tells THR of Passover during the time of COVID-19. Mystical Rabbi Karen Deitch, who also counts on industry insiders as congregants, adds, "All of the rituals and themes that exist around the holiday of Passover seem more relevant than ever this year." She says of the timeliness of the holiday traditions, "We are instructed in preparation for [Passover] to clean, purify and order our homes. I am watching the people I work with doing this naturally as a result of Covid." Echoes Fuzzy Door Productions president Erica Huggins, "Given our current plague, the connection has not been lost on anyone."

Many plan to gather via Zoom. “We have our two sons with us and we will Zoom in the rest of the family," notes Gersh’s Leslie Siebert of her Passover seder plans.

"My siblings and I always rotate who hosts it and we always all contribute our signature dishes," producer Danielle Claman Gelber adds of her pre-COVID-19 seders. This year, however, "we're all making it for our own families," and will Zoom in for the seder. Gelber is making her traditional brisket and potato kugel for her mother, but picking up matzo ball soup from Pico Kosher Deli.

Says Jason Alexander of the "e-seder" he’s invited to, "I’m hoping I only need to provide the salted water, because where the hell am I going to get a lamb shank in this environment is beyond me." Vice Studios’ Danny Gabai is also coping in the best way he could: “My wife bought a box of matzah which I am hoarding under the sink next to my bottles of Clorox Clean-Up.” Adds manager Jeff Field, "I am putting a bottle of Purell on my door so the angel will pass over us."

Barbra Streisand and James Brolin celebrate Passover (first night is April 8) and Easter (April 12). "A group of us always share Passover at the home of Marilyn and Alan Bergman," says Streisand. "This year we will all be together, except all on our computer screens." Adds Brolin, "Last Sunday, I hid two dozen eggs around the yard, so I could forget where they were for the big Easter hunt with just the two of us."

This year stars Billy Porter, Andy Cohen, Rachel Brosnahan, Ben Platt and Cynthia Erivo are among those who are joining in on a virtual seder on Saturday night, April 11 — as opposed to the first two nights of Passover when typically seders are hosted —that will be airing on YouTube to raise money for the CDC's Emergency Response Fund. The virtual Saturday Night Seder services, which will include comedy and music, will be led by L.A.'s Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe and Ikar Rabbi Sharon Brous, among others.

Molly Sims and her husband, Netflix’s Scott Stuber, will celebrate Easter with their children at home with breakfast and an egg hunt. "We decorated the house," she says. "I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible." Adds Uncorked star Courtney B. Vance of plans with wife Angela Bassett, "Our biggest decision is if we’re going to go to the living room or the family room to watch services from West Angeles Church of God in Christ. We'll also probably have a nice family dinner and share it online with our family members across the country."

Actress Angela Robinson (OWN's The Haves and the Have Nots) adds, “We will dress up, we will eat well, we will praise our God and tune into our church’s live stream.” Terry Crews has similar plans to virtually attend church services on Sunday with his wife, Rebecca King-Crews. "[We] plan to join the live stream of different churches around the world on Sunday morning, and then Zoom a meal with our adult kids as they celebrate. Social distancing is paramount," he notes.

Producer Lysa Heslov is also celebrating both Passover and Easter. “We will likely cook or order from a small business and celebrate our holidays intimately,” she says of plans with her family, including producer husband Grant Heslov. “My girls still enjoy an Easter egg hunt, and our day will likely end with candlelight Rummikub and Casamigos margaritas.”

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger is making the most of this time in the kitchen as she has teamed up with her husband, chef Noah Galuten (who is a James Beard-nominated author and has worked with L.A. eateries Bludso's BBQ, Prime Pizza, Golden State and Cofax) for an online cook-a-long show airing daily on her Instagram and Facebook Live called "Don't Panic Pantry." The duo will be cooking Passover eats live on Wednesday, April 8.

Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum series, Stranger Things) tells THR about the importance of slowing down during Passover "given that this historic moment has uniquely slowed us down and bonded us to family day in, day out.” The producer notes that his family will also be inaugurating a Zoom seder with relatives while enjoying Jewish comfort foods “in a time in which we all need all the comfort we can get.”

As for the fact that the two holidays are falling during the pandemic, Vance says, “ultimately Easter 2020 may very well be the most poignant and wonderful Easter celebration we've ever had.“

After the Holocaust, the world changed,” Rabbi Hier says, adding a call to action: “Our world has to change.”

A version of this story first appeared in the April 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.