Most of all, though, the Seder belonged to our family, with all four generations present and participating.
Marjorie spent hours cooking and setting up, right down to shredding horseradish for maror. Jonathan spent hours preparing his garlicked brisket and his featherlight matzoballs.
Carol had sent out a Midrash quoting Maimonides, who interpreted the phrase in the Haggadah "In each generation a man must see himself as though he himself had made the Exodus from Egypt," as "each man must show himself." She wrote to all participants ahead of time and asked them to show up as though they were ready to make the Exodus tonight.
In came Andy and Neal, dressed accordingly:
Carol wore a pharaonic gold amulet that I had given her the day before for her birthday. Apparently, she was one of the looters who took the spoils of Egypt with her and readied them as a contribution to Aaron to make the golden calf. I wore a towel on my head, dark glasses, and carried the American Express card without which I never leave home. Marjorie's friend, Mikki, brought a picture of her ancestor Mary, and Gayle, another friend who did not receive the dress code in time, saved the day by wearing red slippers so that she could fly away across the Red Sea.
We began with the traditional song:
seder like Mom's seder
Like no seder we know.
Everything about it is appealing--
Everything halakha will allow.
Don't you know we get a happy feeling
When Abie's stealing the matzah now.
There's no people like Jew people;
They smile when they are flogged.
Even when they're fleeing from a big pogrum,
The Passover melodies they will hum.
Let's remember triumphs over all that scum;
Let's go on with the seder!
Marjorie lit the candles, I led the men (note that...the men) in kiddush, and I washed my hands and hid the afikomen. Andy asked the Four Questions. Jonathan showed the shankbone, and Neal showed the matzoh.
We beat each other with scallions (don't ask), while Josie clowned around.
The rest of the seder followed my Zayde's format: lots of breakneck recitation and chant with accents on the wrong syllable. Part of the tradition has become the Krepon family's B'tzait Yisrael, with cantorial embellishments from Sharon's Cantor Lew.
Marjorie and Jonathan outdid themselves with dinner. We began with a comparison taste test of one piece of Manischewitz gefilte fish beside a piece of homemade gefilte fish from Russ and Daughters that cost $3/piece. We decided that the latter was indeed worth 10 times the price of the former. Russ and Daughters rules. There followed asparagus with gremolata, roasted root vegetables, brisket with garlic, vegetarian broth and chicken soup with knaidelach, and a delicious date haroset. Andy brought the traditional boiled eggs, colored with beets and kale. Neal brought his mother's carrot kugel. We had mixed pastries for dessert, featuring Carol's brownies. We were stoffed. We were bloated. You all have to give us the recipe. The wines that I brought were uniformly terrible, m'vushal or not, except for a Yarden chardonnay from Israel. The afikomen presents that I brought, courtesy of many pharmaceutical companies, were a big hit.
We finished off with songs accompanied by the guitar.
What a great seder this was! It was an easy and natural tradition passed to another generation.
On to the Second Seder