Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seder memories

My earliest memories of the seder are of one of my great uncles speed-reading through the whole thing entirely in Hebrew, with probably most of the attendees not understanding a single word. Being with the extended family was fun, but there wasn’t much seder to it.

Later, my parents would make their own sedarim (seders), with enough people crammed around the dining room table that we practically had our elbows in one another’s soup. These sedarim were a vast improvement, in that, since they were conducted almost entirely in English, everyone understood everything. To his considerable credit, my father insisted on doing the entire seder, no matter how many guests left after shulchan orech (the meal).

But, as I got older and learned a tad more Hebrew, and, especially, after several years in the synagogue choir, I found my parent’s sedarim sadly lacking in singing. So, for a few years before they made aliyah (moved to Israel), I invited them to come to our seder for one night (and our friends were kind enough to host them and us for another). Since we invited a few friends from the choir, we had the most wonderful singing, reserving the English for the Maggid (“Telling”) parts of the seder.

Alas, then we left Manhattan for one of the outer boroughs of New York City, and there went not only our singers, but our seder, as well. We found out the hard way that we’re simply not cut out for running a “learners’ seder”: We need a critical mass of guests who actually know their way around a haggadah. Probably the worst seder we ever made was the one at which the Punster and I were literally the only people at the table who knew any of the seder songs. What was the point in killing ourselves preparing for guests and whipping up a special meal when we just ended up singing duets? We could have done that by ourselves, and skipped the extra hassle. Sigh.

Nowadays, we usually go to a synagogue seder for one night and to an old friend’s place for the other. We’ve probably been going to our friend’s seder for over a decade now, since our kid and her two were still kids, so we feel right at home. Everybody gets two haggadot—one from which the seder is being read, and one from which we can spot interesting commentaries and chime in. And yes, I'm happy to say that there’s plenty of singing—and, for Chad Gadya, some sound effects (woof woof, meow), as well. :)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have no idea why, but something about this post made me so sad...

Thu Mar 29, 11:06:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My seder experiences have been rather mixed, but we always have a good seder at our old friend's place. Hey, as long as I get to sing, I'm in Chag heaven. :) I hope that you, too, have a meaningful and enjoyable seder.

Thu Mar 29, 01:41:00 PM 2007  

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