Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Hope You Have Not Been Wandering for 40 Years Waiting for My Passover Post

It is hard to get excited about a holiday in which the dietary staple is Bread of Affliction.

Who was the marketing genius that came up with that one?

Square bread, round hole.

Believe me, after eight days, a person can feel pretty afflicted, no matter how many prunes you put in the tsimmes.

Still, I love Passover, and especially seder. And, I don't mind saying, especially MY seder, which rocks.

Literally, since we play every Metallica song there is about a plague visited upon the Egyptians.

Which it turns out is only one. Apparently boils, though a source of discomfort hellacious enough even for the Holiest of Holies, is not quite hellacious enough for the Heavy of Metals.

This year, we managed to add more multimedia to our seder. Why not celebrate the oppression of our people in ancient times with that most oppressive of modern scourges?

Who among us has not suffered the plague of
having a coworker who is a zealous PowerPoint presenter?

But the real highlight came from my favorite Irish Catholic (well, former Catholic), aka my college roommate, who was fortuitously visiting her family in Boston during Nisan 5768 (that is not some sort of Japanese race car; it's just a Jew way to say April 2008). Where she discovered that her sister, a perpetual graduate student in religion, was reading a tome entitled Choice Cuts: Meat Production in Ancient Egypt.

You must find something in there I can read at seder, I said.

But she did even better. She found something I could show.

Yes, dear reader, that is an illustration of a hyena being force-fed some sort of trussed meat (duck? rabbit? all I know is it ain't square enough to be matzah). By an Egyptian.

Which caused the venerable archaeologist Salima Ikram, author of Choice Cuts, to hypothesize that the Egyptians was fattening up the hyena before killing and eating it. Aside from rendering this some sort of pharaonic forerunner of the turducken, it would also make the Egyptians "the only people to eat hyenas in the ancient world."

So I put the illustration in my Pascal Powerpoint and informed all the attendees at my seder that whenever we read the words Egypt or Egyptian, we should all call out, HYENAPHAGE!

And we did.

About three dozen times - if you've ever been to a seder, you know that's about how often Egypt and Egyptians are mentioned about.

The irony, of course, is that Egyptians have actually been pretty decent allies to Israelis in recent decades. And to tell the truth, I did feel badly about encouraging this new level of vilification.

But really, when you're a Jew at Passover - a holiday in which horseradish, apples, and walnuts piled on bread of affliction is euphemistically called a sandwich - if you can make fun of anyone else's dietary practices, you really should.


Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Have you thought of using your mad skillz to publish a Hip, Happening, Haggadah on the web? There is a fortune to be made, I guaran-damn-tee it! If I have to read one more painfully dull 'telling', I'm going to fashion a shiv out of a matzah and stab myself.

(some seed money for what appears to be a successful career in photoshop...)

Macaroni said...

baroness, you have revealed yourself as one of the few, the proud!
William Shatner
Geddy Lee
Mordecai Richler
Leonard Cohen

the Baroness -

Jews of the frozen north:
All of the Canadian, none of the bacon!