Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Priestly Seder

"Is daddy coming to the table?" I asked one of my kids.

Hubby was in the throes of depression and refused to come to the table.  Like a banished bad boy.   My daughter's friend from Tiberias at the last minute copped out of the seder too, as did two Anglican clergymen.  But two Catholic priests from France wanted to join up with a Jewish family for the seder and after seeing the email request, I answered promptly.

My son-in-law, a follower of Rabbi Ovadya Yosef, was none too thrilled about my having invited non-Jewish guests over, but this is MY house, and I can invite whom I want.  He said he had never heard that this was a mitzvah (good deed), after I insisted that it was.

I called up the Arab taxi driver I had hired for the priests.

"I dropped them off at your house 20 minutes ago!" he said.  It doesn't take 20 minutes to walk up 8 flights of stairs, and they would anyways use the elevator.   I searched for them outside, but only saw people coming back from synagogue prayers.  I had no idea what they looked like.  I was looking for two men with white collars and crucifix necklaces, perhaps. 

While I was looking for them on the street, they had made their way to my apartment, not wanting to arrive too early.  I walked in to find two smiling young men with yarmulkas on their heads.  That wasn't what I expected, nor did my family.  My son-in-law seemed happy that they didn't look like Catholic priests.

There was chaos for the first 5 minutes, trying to seat people, and me trying to figure out who is gonna run the seder with hubby AWOL, plus everyone was hungry and impatient and getting short with each other.  My guests were still smiling, especially when I told them the meaning of the word "seder" means order, and it's anything but orderly in my home right now.

We began the seder.  We filled our cups with the first of four cups of wine.  The French guests preferred wine over the alternative grape juice that was offered to those who don't like wine.  But of course.  I had made sure that there was enough wine.  We went around the table reading each paragraph.  I had found a French Haggadah which I gave to one of the priests.  The other one brought his very own French translation of the Haggadah. When it came turn for my guests to read, I told them they can read in French, if they prefer, since the language of the seder should be in the language one understands.  The other priest read in Hebrew, pretty well too, much to everyone's surprise.

My boss and friends had teased me prior to the seder -when they found out about my non-Jewish guests.

"What will you do about the paragraph "Pour out your wrath to the Nations...", with the word "goyim" so prominent in this angry section of the Haggadah?"

"Time to take them out on the terrace for a bit of a smoke break"? asked a friend laughingly.

We got through it, because my Haggadah, the Holistic Haggadah, had an additional paragraph afterwards which read "Pour out your love to the nations" and I proudly showed them this new addition to our service.

We talked about the custom of us using eggs in the seder plate and as a first course with salt water and the connection to Easter eggs.  We didn't know what the connection was - but perhaps there is one. 

We explained that we open the door for the Prophet Elijah.  He'll drink from the special cup we prepare for him, filled with fine wine.  And he's the one who will herald the coming of the Messiah.

I figured enough mention of the Messiah might make our guests happy.

"Can priests smoke?" asked my daughter to me.

"Why don't you just ask them?"

Yes priests can smoke.  They just can't have sex, but my daughters had teased me before the seder about them coming on to my son.  Even after four cups of wine, though, they were true gentlemen, a bit more talkative but very polite and very wonderful guests.  They thanked me for inviting them to their first seder or Jesus' last supper.  I thanked them for coming and making our seder all the more interesting.


Ahavah-Shim'on said...

ohh, has anyone ever told you that you are truly a blessing...

jerusalemgypsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jerusalemgypsy said...

Errr. No. Not really. My family would never tell me I'm a blessing.

Anonymous said...

Happy Passover from your Hoosier fan in France - you're a delight to read!