Monday, March 26, 2007

Know Your Jewish Community: Sedarim

Now I'm going home for the Sedarim* (as is Harley), so I don't have to worry this year about where I will find myself on the first two nights of Passover. I will be in the bosom of my family, watching my father giggle at the line "and Moses took his rod into his hand and performed signs with it, and wonders." That NEVER gets old.

At any rate, not everyone will be laughing at such puerile jokes (my mom, for instance) instead they will be at many different types of Sedarim. An article in the NY Observer describes a couple of famous seders held/attended by the LA giliterati. (Warning: NY Observer articles tend to go offline after a couple weeks, so if the link is broken, I apologize) Now I'm all for people experiencing Judaism in whatever way is meaningful for them, but I have an issue with this article. And this is it: "When Roman Polanski was shooting Chinatown and wanted to return to his native Poland in order to celebrate Passover, the film’s producer, Bob Evans, intervened and threw one of his own. The Kiddush was read by Kirk Douglas."

Roman Polanksi wanted to go home for Passover, and was offered, instead, a place at a seder run in an obviously non-traditional fashion (which is great, but I can't imagine that the sedarim in Poland are anything other than traditional). It just strikes me as wrong: "oh, you wanted to go home? We can't afford the time off from shooting, so we'll just make do here. See? Just like home, except with Kirk Douglas involved, so it is clearly better."

Anyway, I did a scan of some of the major sites to see what other kinds of Passover experiences are available, so here's my rundown:

Jewcy: only the one option, In Haggada Da Vita in LA. If you live in NY, sucks to be you.

BluePrint: a "Guide to Passover" which seems to have a fair bit of coverage. A bunch of different options for different experiences, and is not limited to the first two nights. And if you navigate through their community calendar you get a plethora of options.

92nd Street Y: has a community seder, but I'd be wary as it is run by the "director of Jewish outreach" (outreach is often a keyword for intermarried), but then again, I'm a bit cynical.

Blogerher: links to a "seder-finder" which is super-useful. Caveat: all the sedarim are run by Chabad. Less useful.

If you're running your own seder, has a piece on how to add drama to your seder. My family doesn't need any more drama, as shown by the "wine removal incident" of 2004. At any rate, we might actually use the Open Source Haggadah to build our own, as my mom is getting really sick of the "Moses' rod" jokes. Really sick. But seriously, Aish has a list of "10 Ways to Enjoy the Seder" (my suggestion: drink heavily, and sit next to the Pedant) and Tamara Eden posted her response which includes some more global suggestions.

On a more practical note, if you think that the sederim tend to be too long, David Bernstein of The Volokh Conspiracy has a suggestion for a 30-minute seder. For those who wish to incorporate feminist themes into the seder (and really, who wouldn't?) MilbyDaniel gives a good rundown of rituals, and some history. Other progressive options include those of Saul Kaiserman at New Jewish Education who suggests leaving an empty chair in honor of victims of the Darfur genocide.

I will be enjoying my family's fairly traditional seder where candy is given for good questions and good answers, the wine flows freely, and so do the jokes about Moses' rod.

*Sedarim is the Hebrew plural for Seder. The direct translation of "seder" means order, but in this context it is the festival meal that takes place on the first night/two nights of Passover, generally including a great deal of ritual, and readings from a book of liturgy called the Haggadah.


DaGirl said...

My absolute favorite seder is the 2-minute one that can be found here:

it's ideal for those who can't wait to dig into those soup nuts :).

Annie said...

I love soupnuts. Thanks for the link DaGirl.

orieyenta said...

...watching my father giggle at the line "and Moses took his rod into his hand and performed signs with it, and wonders." That NEVER gets old.

OMG - I better not laugh out loud at our Sedarim because of you.

Jack's Shack said...

Echo Park- That is an odd place for a seder in LA. Personally I look forward to leading my second seder. This year maybe I'll giggle about Moses and his rod.

Audrey. said...

I was going to share Slate's 2 minute seder with you, only to find that someone beat me to the punch! I should have known.

I'm also amused that you link to Phoebe - I always forget how many people read her blog. I am best friends with one of her high school friends - a bunch of us had drinks last weekend. Small world.