Monday, March 29, 2010

An Ironic, Post-Modern Passover Anecdote

Since junior year of college - that's more than 20 years ago - I've been celebrating the second seder with friends. Most of us hated our parents' seders - rushed, boring Maxwell House eat-fests - and we wanted something a little more meaningful for ourselves.

For the first ten years, there was only one rule: No parents invited - and then we had to do away with that rule too, as we started becoming parents ourselves. So now there are no rules.

The seder is run as a pot-luck: Everyone brings a dish, a bottle of wine, and contributes some cash towards rental of tables and chairs and such. The amount of text from the haggadah that gets read has declined dramatically as the number of kids at (or near) the table has surpassed the number of adults - although as the median age of our children climbs, I'm sure they'll take a more active role in shaping the evening.

For many years, the seder would be held at whoever's apartment was the biggest - for the past few years, we've been consistently in the same Park Slope brownstone. This year, however, at the last minute (the night before Erev Pesach), we had to suddenly find a new location.

This turned out to be a challenge: Most of our apartments can't accommodate around twenty adults and an equal number of kids, many under the age of two. One couple was traveling back from another country that afternoon, another had just moved into a new apartment and hadn't unpacked, a third was hosting the first seder and then working all day on Pesach, a fourth lived in - gasp - New Jersey.

But here was the most amusing complication: You see, most of us who come to this seder don't keep a kosher kitchen (especially those of us who aren't Jewish). So one couple couldn't host because they had kashered their apartment for Passover. In other words, because their place had been made ready for Pesach, it was no longer possible to have a seder there. If you ask me, that's the irony of post-modern Jewish life.

Don't worry - that friend's mom has come to the rescue, and we're hosting it at her place - if she comes, she'll be the first grandparent we've had at the seder.

Chag Kasher v'Sameach!


Natalie said...

Saul - thanks for a smile on a rainy, crazy erev-pesach day, in a kosher house actually in New Jersey. Lots of love to all of your family and your seder clan. Natalie (Hutner) Pont

Susan and Judy said...

saul - really sad to miss pesach in brooklyn, as always. i am hosting a seder for 40 adults and 35 kids (at a church, where else?), and just yesterday reviewed the brooklyn haggadah for some ideas on the fourth telling. so much love from down under to all of you. next year - come to sydney. we have plenty of space! susan