For the first time in my life I stayed up for both seders in their entirety. I spent the first days of Pesach in Saratoga Springs with my father and the Rubin family. I am so proud of myself considering that last year I fell asleep at both sidurim and my ex-fiancée used it as leverage to break up with me two months before our wedding. Its funny because I was trying to figure out where I had spent last pesach and then I remember staying at my ex’s house and having an incredibly boring seder. I think it was the whole ultra-yeshivish argue about the four sons until the death and make me feel like crap because my eyes began drooping at 2 in the morning.
Well the sidurim ended before midnight each night- my kind of seders- there was no crotzing around and the kinderlach all said the ma-nishtana at once. None of that each kid taking 30 minutes to grow some balls to bust it out in front of all the guests. None of that each kid has to say it in three languages. Nope, it was speedy and efficient, one may have even thought we were a bunch of yeckies- definitely not a bunch of Lubavitchers- but that’s precisely who was leading the show, even shachris was over by 11:30 with all the singing of nigunim.
Pesach is always a time for reflection, especially when you haven’t hit the best part of the seder yet. The best part is Dayenu, not only because it is the greatest Jewish song ever, but because it signifies two things unity- which I will explain and that the magid portion is almost over and we will be gorging our faces in a matter of moments. By unity I mean that Dayenu is one of the only Jewish songs that is song round the globe in every sect of Judaism with the same tune. I am sure someone will comment that there must be some random Bobover tune for it- but as far as I know- it is the universal song. Everyone knows it and everyone sings it, even popular songs such as “Shabbat shalom hey” and “Hava Negila” aren’t sung by many in the ultra orthodox communities- but Dayenu is sung by all.
So Lubavitchers are ultra strict on pesach and from what I heard I was expecting madness. It was definitely not madness- although the traditional matzo ball was not to be seen, there was no matzo pizza, no matzo brie and no coffee to my fathers chagrin- there was amazingly creative dishes. They bring their artistic talent to food on pesach and make the weirdest stuff without using any processed goods. For instance we had chicken schnitzel that was encrusted in nuts, guacamole, this amazing mouth watering drool inducing foam at the mouth eggplant salad. It had roasted and sautéed onions and peppers- and went very nicely with the gefilte fish. One of the ladies made some ices out of grape juice and lime; the chicken soup had the same ideals as scotch since it aged very well. It had all the trimmings even noodles made of egg- very clever, I had it last year at someone’s house as well.
Things that I didn’t miss included, a dragged out seder that never seems to end, those sugar slices, jelly rings, dark chocolate stuff, pesach cake that costs more then a new CD, 20 kids saying ma-nishtana in Yiddish, Hebrew and English.
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