(March 25, 2013 / JNS)
By Leo Margul/JNS.org
Passover means seders. They are important Jewish traditions, but also social and hunger-filled minefields. These tips will help you navigate the time between when you show up and avoid questions about your career/relationship to when you shout “Next year in Jerusalem!” and run out with all the flourless desserts.
Staying full during the long wait for the Passover meal
Why did I starve myself in anticipation of dinner tonight? Can’t I just nibble on some brisket while we get through this seder? You could if you were at my house, but some people aren’t as cool. Here is how to stay satiated during the seder’s long, foodless period:
—Dipping the bitter herbs: We dip the bitter herbs into some salt-water, but who says the dipping has to be over after that? Two words: side, guacamole. Between the salt water dip and your mouth, dip those leafy greens into a convenient bowl of guacamole you brought from home, and smile knowing you’re keeping hunger at bay and representing other cultures at the table.
—The Hillel sandwich: A combination of horseradish and charoset that is so close to actual food it makes you weep for something more substantial. Two words: pocket, turkey. Keep a slice of turkey in your pocket, throw it on the Hillel sandwich and BAM! You’ve got a real meal, complete with delicious protein. Honey-glazed or oven-baked turkey, your call. Feel free to offer others your pocket turkey slices, but be prepared for their bewildered looks, which means they’re jealous.
By the time the actual seder rolls around, everyone else will be struggling from hunger, but you’ll be ready for your second course. You can go put your pocket turkey in the fridge now, you champion.
Finding the afikomen
As someone in my 20s, I am still occasionally the youngest person at the seder, which means I have to find the afikomen. The sadists hosting usually decide that because I’m older they should hide it somewhere much harder to find, like the tool-shed in their garage or folded up in a tiny locket around their neck. To get them back, while you’re looking for the afikomen, feel free to re-arrange some of the stuff in their house too. Then when you come back, say “found the afikomen, good luck finding your checkbook.” Hopefully this will get you off the hook for next year and convince people to start having babies, then they can go look for the afikomen.
Reading from the Haggadah
Usually at a seder, participants will take turns reading from the Haggadah. Your relatives’ monotones, however, don’t help you pay attention. Between Aunt Leah and Uncle Moishe it sounds like Ben Stein and Kristen Stewart got together to help put some children to sleep.
This leads to you zoning out while fantasizing about Bagel Bites and losing your place in the Haggadah. How do you pretend you’re focused when called on to read? Simple: just create a few sentences using any combination of these popular Passover words: Egyptians, bondage, Pharaoh, matzo, unleavened, bitter, ancestors, etc. For example:
—Our ancestors made matzah to escape from Pharaoh and the house of bondage.
—We eat unleavened bread today just as our ancestors did.
—Pharaoh was into bondage, but other Egyptians were not, and this made him bitter.
Oh what’s that? Suddenly everyone stopped drawing cool shapes with the 10 plagues pinky wine on their plates and started paying attention.
Following these instructions will certainly make you the most popular person at your gathering. Then you can host your own seder next year, where everyone gets a variety of side dishes and pocket meats.