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[Comments] (2) Crummy.com Podcasts: Sedermasochism Part 1: Beth's Seder was the first one I'd ever attended[0], and it was such an interesting experience I'm editing my recording of the Seder into a series of podcasts. As always, you can download the podcast or subscribe to the crummy.com podcast feed. This episode is rated M for mature, with pervasive suggestive themes, language, and of course alcohol references.

Participating in the Seder were Beth; Lucian; me and Sumana; and three others who wish to be known only by pseudonyms: Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, and Princess Peach. The atmosphere was really fun; I'll try to convey it to non-Jewish Americans in a Beth-approved analogy. (If you're not American or Canadian, the analogy won't work; substitute Guy Fawkes Day or something, I dunno.)

Imagine being a kid at Thanksgiving. Except that Thanksgiving has a set agenda, a specific set of symbolic appetizers before you get to the meal, and a set of rituals and historical recreations (Pilgrims etc.) that give a consistent shape to your Thanksgiving afternoon, year after year. There are many Thanksgiving books giving different scripts for the recreations, and your parents probably have one specific book that they pull out every year.

Also, you and your family are living on a Mars colony, where most people come from countries that don't celebrate Thanksgiving. So, although Thanksgiving is intended to be celebrated with your close relatives, as a kid you often spend the holiday with lots of people whose closest relationship with your family is that they're also Americans. Lots of cranky old folks arguing about the right way to do Thanksgiving (this is an official part of the ceremony; it symbolizes American democracy), you as a child being forced to go on stage and perform ritual Thanksgiving songs. You as a teenager still stuck at the kids' table because there's no room for you at the grown-ups' table.

Then you grow up and leave home. You can do your own Thanksgiving dinner, you can mix and match from the books to get your own take on the meaning of the holiday, and you can invite your peers to the meal. Since the cranky old people are not present, you are free to swear and make dirty jokes and have the arguments you want to have about the right way to do Thanksgiving. And despite the aggravation of the Thanksgivings of your youth, despite the fact that you may no longer even think of yourself as "American" except by birth, you still have this emotional attachment to the old songs and rituals, and you still want to do things correctly.

And that's what Beth's Seder felt like. If you've never been to a Seder before, listen in to learn why there's an orange on the Seder plate (apparently not the real story), hear how Gul Maror reminds us of the bitterness of the Cardassian occupation, and endure the first of two terrible Passover filks.

More Seder podcasts to follow. I'm basically going through the recording, cutting out awkward pauses, and stopping once I've got an hour of footage. I expect it'll probably be 2.5 hours total, since not much happens during the meal.

[0] We only knew one Jewish family when I was growing up, and my Mormon parents wouldn't have been comfortable at a ceremony centered around getting smashed on wine.

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Posted by rachel at Fri Apr 02 2010 14:30

kind of like celebrating thanksgiving as expat.

Posted by Kevin Mark at Mon Apr 05 2010 06:40

found the ceremony typical of some of the ones I have been to and which I myself partake of with my family. One thing that needs replacement is the bottled gefilte fish. This stuff is awful. Please tell them about Benz (http://www.benzsfish.com/product.html) This stuff is head and shoulders about the goop that comes from a bottle. It is available in NY and Boston (not sure where as I live in NY).
Have you ever seen a celebration that has similar remixing, modification, improv and humor in either of your memory banks? There are other more strict and somber ones, of course. And the Orthodox folks are usually more strict in most things.


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