Monday, April 21, 2008

Seder Snippets

We had a busy weekend with two seder meals. Why two seders? Due to the difficulty of knowing exactly when the new moon would occur in Israel, Jews in the diaspora (outside Israel) traditionally added an extra day to Passover and celebrated two seders to ensure they had the right day covered. Nowadays the correct date for the beginning of Passover can be calculated more accurately, but the double seder tradition stuck.

Saturday's Seder
Small scale, with just the five of us. We downloaded this Family Haggadah (seder order of service) a couple of years ago and it works well for our mix of ages. It has all the essential elements of a traditional seder, clear text, abbreviated versions of favourite songs transliterated into the western alphabet, and is short enough for the girls to stay focused (mostly!).

Cherub was intrigued by the whole thing. Particularly by her very small "wine" glass, which she stuffed with a mixture of parsley (our "karpas" vegetable), charoset (apple, nuts, wine and sugar mixture to represent the mortar used by the Israelites in Egypt), matzoh and hard boiled egg. Nice.

Nobody spilled any wine. Unheard of.

Mercifully no unpleasant surprises during the preparation, unlike some people. Commiserations to Faith over the dead chipmunk.

Sunday's Seder

A larger scale at my SIL's, with fifteen people altogether (three families, plus an elderly gentleman from their synagogue, and a young Spanish Jew living in the UK to learn more about Judaism). Our girls were the only children ... the other "kids" are now all young adults. This was a full scale seder, following the Orthodox Haggadah and using a mix of Hebrew and English. Everyone there apart from myself and the girls are actually Reform Jews, but the Reform Synagogue organisation here doesn't have its own Haggadah so they stick to the traditional one. A traditional seder is long. We started at seven and finished at eleven, but only because the later section was fast-tracked as people needed to leave. Otherwise it would have been nearer midnight. It is also hard to follow, as the translation is grim. Old-fashioned language at its worst - pompous, wordy and obscure.

Cherub spent the entire time before the seder meal (an hour or more) sitting at the table happily arranging Playmobil people and furniture. After the meal she played a bit with Angel and Star, and with a box of sticklebricks. She is clearly a party animal. No way was she going to let herself fall asleep while there was a party going on. At one point she sat on Angel's lap and nodded off ... but managed to force herself back awake, hopped down and tried to walk. She was so close to asleep on her feet she looked like a little robot.

Lengthy negotiations over the afikomen (a piece of matzoh hidden by the children, which later becomes necessary for the continuation of the seder ... the children then hold it to ransom). My BIL is a lawyer. It shows. It took a while to establish that (a) yes, he was a person prepared to use cash to buy himself out of a difficulty, and (b) no, the girls would not consider Euros a better deal than sterling. All were eventually satisfied with the end result of the negotiations.

Two entirely random overheard comments:
"Pescatarianism sounds worse than cannibalism to me." (Huh?)
"I was at a Sephardi seder last night and at this point everyone hits each other over the head with a spring onion (scallion)."

Cousin L spilled her wine.


Meredith said...

Love the scallion comment, did you do it??? Happy Passover to you all!

Dorothy said...

When I was researching Passovers, I did not come across the spring onion bashing!!!

It sounds like Cherub did very well!

De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Dorothy shared your link with me. It was fun to read about your seders. I may have to add the onion bashing. LOL