For those of you who DON’T know the story of Passover (you should be ashamed of yourself) I’m about to give you the Spewing-Nonsense version of it. The Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians. The Pharaoh was mean. Someone found baby Moses in a basket in the river. God decided to punish the Egyptians with the plagues. The Jews escaped and ran away through the desert and had to eat matzo because there wasn’t time for the bread to rise. The end! That is how long my ideal Seder lasts. Plus a few fun songs and lots of wine.
Last night we had a Seder at my cousin’s apartment on the Upper West Side. I warned them that I would arrive late because I couldn’t leave work early. And also told them not to wait for me for anything. Which ended up being beyond perfect because I walked in the door just as the Jew-speak was ending and the matzo-ball soup was being served.
So after a couple of glasses of wine I obviously started screaming across the table (if you’ve ever had a meal with me you already know I will scream across the dinner table even if there isn’t any wine involved… but as the amount of wine intake increases, so does the VOLUME OF MY VOICE). And because I am not religious at all, and we had some non-Jews at the dinner table, I decided to start being semi-blasphemous.
And let me kick off my blaspheming by saying I am currently eating an English muffin- The first of many not Kosher for Passover foods I will be consuming this week. But I found these seasonal Maple French Toast flavored English Muffins, so I’m sorry Jews who were enslaved thousands of years ago, but as you can see, my hands are tied here.
We were talking about who was keeping Kosher for Passover (which means basically eating matzo in place of bread for the next week) and I decided to respond with “I’ll go home and eat pizza after this meal. That is how Kosher for Passover I am.” For the record, I did not go home and eat pizza as I was bursting at the seams with brisket and chicken and stuffing. Mmmmmm. But that comment was just to let everyone at the table know where I stand with being observant, just in case there was any confusion.
Here is my issue with people who keep kosher for Passover: I understand that it’s a nod to our ancestors and what they went through thousands of years ago. But really. Taking hours to cook these intricate dishes without yeast so that they are “Kosher for Passover” is totally hypocritical to the original concept of keeping Kosher for Passover. Matzo only exists because of a time constraint.
And if there was a ripple in the time-space continuum and our ancestors saw us with our paved roads and our airplanes and our blue-tooth head sets and saw that for 8 days we were cutting out bread to acknowledge them don’t you think they would laugh? Don't you think they would say, "Take the Matzo you bought for Passover and give it to someone who is can't afford a meal." Or, "Take the energy you're using to cut out bread (gasp!) and help someone in need." I'm not saying I'm doing either of those things, but I'm also not pretending like I give two shits about staying Kosher for Passover. It’s just sooooooo insignificant. And also, don’t complain to me about how you have to eat matzo all week. Because A. it’s your choice and B. if you’ve never taken the Atkins diet out for a test drive this is your chance. Screw Matzo. Just cut out carbs for a week. Big whoop.
Side note: It has always bothered me that matzo isn’t spelled matzah. I’m all about being phonetic when translating.
Back to Seder: After my grandma spilled a glass of wine and my aunt spilled two, the red wine supply was running pretty low. I’m not sure if we actually ran out or not – it’s one of those things that no one wanted to bring up because everyone was pretty drunk and no one was sure how inappropriate it would be if we kept asking for more bottles. I guess it’s proper etiquette to let the hosts decide how much wine should be served. So part of the Seder involves pouring a glass of wine for the phantom ghost of Elijah (pronounced el-lee-ah-hoo in Hebrew). I don’t know what the significance of this is at all. I just know that you close your eyes and sing a song and then Elijah is supposed to come and drink some of the wine out of his special silver goblet. As I’m typing this I’m realizing more than ever how bizarre religion is.
With the red wine supply running low and no one really caring about following the proper Seder directions, I decided to dump the wine from Elijah’s silver goblet wine glass into my grandma’s empty wine glass (I think this was directly after she spilled her wine, but the series of events are blurred in my wined-up memory). This managed to get a nice chuckle out of most of the table, except for my Great Aunt Charlotte, whose daughter is orthodox, and insisted we pour the wine back into Elijah’s goblet as I was screaming “She needs it more than he does, he’s not even here!” So my grandma poured like half of it back and kept the rest for herself. I’ve never been prouder.
That was when I realized that if anyone was truly serious about this Seder I would have (and should have) been thrown out. But everyone was too wined-up to care and I was also informed shortly after I first asked, “On a scale of one to Jesus, how blasphemous was that?” that the hostess had said that since many of the old people have died out (literally) that no one knows what to do at the Seder anymore. So I took that as a cue to go hog-wild.
Next I decided to sing/yell the weird prayer we sang before breakfast at my summer camp. The lyrics are as follows (feel free to sing along!):
The Lord is good to me!
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple trees
The Lord is good to me!
YEEEE HAWWW!!! (with accompanying fist pump)
Aunt Charlotte responded with, “That doesn’t sound Jewish”. Astute observation, Aunt Charlotte. Although my camp was jam-packed with Jews, the owners were not only Christian, but their last name was literally “Christian”… So yeah… Although if we want to get technical the Jewish God and the Christian God are the same entity (right?), I pretty much felt like I was praising Jesus in the middle of Passover Seder. Whoops. Don’t. Care.