Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is the seder the right time for song parodies?

In his Chicago Tribune blog, Eric Zorn annually lists various song parodies he and his fellow seder guests sing at the seders Zorn and his wife attend. (Mrs. Zorn is Jewish.) According to his March 18, 2010 post, he wrote "Super-Kosher Manischewitz, Exodus and Moses" to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," the famous Mary Poppins song. The post is here: http://bit.ly/cBN2Mp

Hmmmm.

On one hand, that's fine. This isn't Yom Kippur, after all. If Eric, his wife and other seder guests want to have a little fun at a truly joyous occasion, they should knock themselves out and have a good time. Publicizing this rite of spring might persuade others the seder isn't a drag. Perhaps that Jewish minority that doesn't attend seders might be show up for one.

On the other hand: I can hear family members screaming at me because I make seder requirements so restrictive. Just one restriction: the seder must be kosher for Passover. Zorn doesn't indicate whether his seder is kosher or not. He may not know. Regardless of whether his seder is kosher, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter to him. He's not Jewish, but just as important, he doesn't grasp the gravity of the importance of the holiday. We escaped from Egypt--not just physically, when it actually happened, but spiritually, every Passover. Zorn misses out on that spiritual component of Passover, and that plays a very important role in a seder. For that reason alone, the seder must be kosher for Passover.

1 comment:

Danny Mittleamn said...

Ken,

You gotta do what works for you and your family. And no one should be (or is) telling you to do differently.

Here is my take on it (what works for me). I wrote the two parody songs that appear above your comment in Zorn's blog. I started writing them about a decade ago. For me personally, what this did was give me a focus for working on my own Haggadah. While I wrote lots of silly songs (and think about it: songs about goats are kind of silly too), it drew me in to the question: How do I thread all this together into a meaningful Seder.

That got me into researching about Seder. I'd passively stepped through it all my life with my father leading and never gave much thought to what was beyond the words we recited or the basic prayers we repeated. Writing my own Haggadah forced me to deconstruct the 15 parts of the Seder, understand why each part was there, figure out how to convey the base meaning to my audience, and figure out what more I might want to convey along with it.

I learned oodles more the first year I wrote my own Haggadah than I did in all the years I was a passive participant.

Then, I tried to figure out how I could carry these meanings on to my seder participants. I have about 50 each year - many of whom don't go to other seders (they are fairly non-practicing), or go to their family's seder, but don't give it any more thought than I used to give it.

So, I use the silly songs to attract them, help them to pay attention, and to interpret meaning for them. And I spice the Haggadah with modern metaphor for aincient stories to try to make those stories relative enough in their current lives that they will dig in to them and give it additional thought.

Anyway, that's how I make it work for me.

Danny