Monday, April 2, 2012
The Seder Nazi
Passover is coming up this week.
As I look over the past few years, I noticed I've always included an entry about Pesach on roundseventeen. And thought, stealing the jargon of the Haggadah, "why should this year be any different than all others?"
Actually, in the reading of past year's postings I cannot believe I've never made mention of our very own Seder Nazi.
Her name was Judy and she was a friend of a friend of my wife's family. Sadly, Judy passed away a few years ago, but she was always a welcome guest at our seder table. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but because having Judy at our Seder always produced unforced laughter.
Let me back the story up a bit and tell you that Judy was an intellectual. She taught art history or English literature at one of the local colleges. If I didn't make it a habit of getting soused on red wine to celebrate the freedom of my ancestors every year, I could probably be more specific about her field of expertise.
But I can't, so I won't.
Judy's acumen went way beyond academia. She was equally well-versed in the Hagaddah and the proper procedures of a well-conducted seder. Her somewhat humorless rigor stood in deep contrast to my family's nonchalance and always-present irreverence.
Sitting at the head of the table and not always knowing the proper recital of the plagues or the correct method for hiding the afikomen, I made it a point to always have Judy sit to my immediate left. The second I screwed up a blessing or commenced the ceremonial washing of the hands in the wrong order, Judy was always there to nudge me under the table and keep me from wandering from the script.
She was my mealtime Moses.
When delving into deep theologic waters it's always helpful to have an authority figure ready to right the ship. Though one time Judy did snap at my then six-year-old daughter who let the charoseths accidentally touch the beitzah.
I don't think any of us will forget that.
We miss you Judy. And just as we set out a kiddush cup full of wine for Elijah, we will set one out for you as well. But don't hold it against us if we don't make it all the way to page 29 in the Haggadah for the festive meal.
In fact, I predict we'll get as far page 21 before my oldest daughter, tired of the wisdom of Rabbi Eliazar and Rabbi Gamliel, will whine, "let my people eat." And then we will.
So shall it be written, so shall it be done.