Everything here is just like a simile, and almost completely alliterative.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Adventures in Judaism

Some memories of this past week's seders, cobbled together.

We went to the home of some dear friends for first night seder, and for our kids, it was Disney World. "Wow," my eldest breathed, as I took them out into the back yard to work off a little energy before showtime. "Their house backs right up to a ballpark!"

"Um, no it doesn't," I had to explain. "That's their baseball diamond." I thought 'eyes like saucers' was a figure of speech until I saw hers. And then the littlest Fabulette streaked off to go roll in the dirt of the diamond. In her Pesach dress, like some poorly trained Labradoodle on top of a dead squirrel.
Well, things could have been worse.

The kids held up pretty well, considering this was not remotely a child-friendly event. We were 19 at table, so it was quite the affair, and the presider, our friend's father, was, oh, about 137 years old and not what you would call the most dynamic leader. But it made my heart clench up to watch our friend constantly and lovingly defer to him, even when his father made mistakes and got things wrong and supplied the wrong explanation for things; our very Jewishly educated friend simply smiled and nodded, and I thought, to quote my eldest, wow. That's piety in action, you know? Not an eyeroll, not an impatient sigh, not a twitch did he betray.

Needless to say, my two youngest did not make it all the way through, and our friend, spotting their impatience, said as soon as we were through Shulkhan Orech, "why don't you guys come with me to the screening room?" And they toddled off after him. I got to hear their sighs and gasps of delight at the in-house movie theater, complete with heated remote control leather reclining seats. So they grooved on The Prince of Egypt, which we had imported specially for the night, and though it may not have been a conventional end to the evening, by the time all the other guests had evaporated, the small group of us curled up together in those chairs and watched the closing of the movie with the kids, laughing at the littlest Fabulette's comments, and it was wonderful.

me: See, sweetie, that's God leading his people out of Egypt.
her: Well, he sure does have a lot of them.

her: (exultant when Pharaoh, her favorite character, reappears) Yay, Pharaoh's back! (spotting his army) Oh, look, he brought Moses some friends!

(I should point out that she is way into Moses. She dressed herself for this event in a rhinestone tiara with matching rhinestone purse. Don't you look lovely, I had said to her. "I'm a princess for Moses," she announced.)

Awkward moment of the evening: I stumble into the kitchen just as Sister-in-Law is reading the riot act to her Brother and Sister-in-Law about the dessert, which, okay, was cake and eclaires, and, um, yeah, pretty much a towering mountain of chametz. We opted for the ice cream and said nothing, but Sis-in-Law was after them but good, with all the zeal of the convert. "Hypocrites!" she was hissing at them. And I couldn't help but think, hmm, there's something in Jewish law somewhere about contemning hospitality, I'm almost sure of it.

Chest-clenching moment of the evening: Fabulette le fils is tapped to read a page. My palms start to sweat, and I start to make little head-shaky motions at the seder leader, who I'm sure can't see me through his cataract fog anyway. I'm thinking oh no, please no, they're not going to understand that he can't do this, reading is so hard for him, this is going to lead to all sorts of explanations, please don't let this happen to him. But then he piped up and said, "Sure!" And he started to read. I was shaking. His voice was so unafraid, so sure. When he stumbled, his sister bent down and whispered the right word to him, and he picked it right up, cheerfully unfazed. HE MADE IT THROUGH A WHOLE PAGE, AND HE WAS AMAZING. Unafraid, in front of 18 people. I had to squeeze my fingers very hard to keep from crying. In the wise words of Dory, if you pray that nothing will ever happen to him, well. . . then nothing will ever happen to him.

So all in all, a success, and as we were driving back home late that night I was excited, brimming over with all the plans for our own seder next year: totally kid-centered, puppet shows, costumes, everything but dancing goats and flame-throwers. "What do you say, guys? Wanna help me? Won't our seder be fun?" A somewhat lame chorus of assent greeted me from the back. And then a small little boy's voice:

"Will it have a movie theater?"

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