Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thirty-Minute Seder? Thumbs Down!

Passover 2009
Passover 2009
Perusing the New York Times magazine this morning, I came across an ad for a haggadah for a 30-minute seder.  I don’t know about you, but after you’ve spent days (or perhaps even weeks) preparing for this most beloved and widely celebrated of festivals—shopping, sweeping the chamatz from the house, perhaps changing the dishes, setting the table, cooking, cooking and more cooking—why, oh why, would you want to retell the story of the Exodus in a mere 30 minutes?? 

Last year (on this very weekend, in fact), I took the train out to my parents’ house in New Jersey to help finish the cooking and the table setting.  My mother had not been well for a few weeks and we were planning a somewhat scaled back seder – the kind where everyone fits at just one table and neither bridge tables nor oddly assorted chairs collected from throughout the house are required.  By the time we all turned in on that Sunday night, the table was set with the good dishes and our bright yellow haggadot, and the fridge was fully stocked with matzo ball soup, tri-colored gefilte fish loaf, brisket, roast chicken, charoset, and the rest of the fixings for what my father – in a terrible mix of metaphors – might call “a down home Passover.”

Little did we know then that that night, Sunday, March 28, 2010, would be the last one my mother would ever spend in the home where she’d lived for nearly 38 years.  Monday morning, March 29th, erev Pesach, found us at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital where we’d spend the next seven weeks tending to her as her health spiraled downward and she battled her own personal Mitzraim before entering hospice on Shavuot.

So, do I want a 30-minute seder this year?  Not a chance.  Although I know that the full-blown “down home seders” of the past at 12 Webster Road are – like my mother’s physical presence – gone, they, and she, live on and will be with us when we gather once again in a few weeks to tell the story of our Exodus from Egypt.  Our celebration will, no doubt, be sad and joyful, filled with laughter and tears, music and memories.  Most of all, though, it will be a lot longer than 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letter From My Blog

Dear JanetheWriter,

Usually when you’re really busy and can’t post to me, your blog, you send a letter to fill me in and let me know what’s keeping you out of the blogosphere.  In an effort to ease even that burden from your shoulders, let me try to write it for you…

I know that you’re up to your eyeballs with school work…you’ve got a paper due tomorrow and a group presentation next week.  But look on the bright side:  the paper’s finished (you submitted it via email tonight) and everyone in your group showed up for today’s 5:30 p.m. meeting to divvy up the work for the presentation.  Good progress on all fronts…

At 633, where you became the foursquare mayor yesterday and unlocked the local badge today, you’re busy doing preliminary research for a new article for Reform Judaism magazine.  You’re also writing lots of correspondence for your boss and for the upcoming Biennial (when does the countdown clock start?), as well as random proofreading and editing “on demand” for others.

In between work and school, you’re managing to fill your time with tons of other things.  Last night, you checked in at temple for an Adult Education Committee meeting and next week you’ve got another one—this time the Festivals Committee.  Between the two committees, the minyan and kabbalat Shabbat services when you’ve got a yahrzeit, you’re getting to be quite the regular up there at 79th and Second. 

And there’s plenty more on your plate, too.  You’ve got to register for the FORCE Conference, make flight and hotel reservations, schedule a haircut (you’re starting to look like what your grandmother used to call a vild Indian, well before that term was deemed less than politically correct), get all your tax paperwork to the accountant, water your orchid, back-up your hard drive, arrange for pre-certification for your upcoming MRI, and place an order with freshdirect.

Whew….no wonder you haven’t got time to write to me.  In any event, I hope you find some time soon.  I always like to hear from you, and I miss you.  I’m sure you’ll get everything done in good time and that the tight grip on your time will ease up shortly.

I hope you’re well and that we’ll be able to connect soon.

Very fondly,
Your Blog

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Executive "Sweet"

After lunch today, my sweet tooth started calling my name.  I don’t generally hear from it, so when I do, I usually listen.  I wandered over to a colleague’s office and was disappointed to find that the bowl located there that's often filled with M&Ms was empty.

Returning to my own office, I posted this status update on Facebook:
Me (Writer to the President):  JanetheWriter is very disappointed that the M&Ms bowl is empty.
Over the next few minutes, this conversation ensued among a few of my colleagues:
Data Management Director:  Go to MUM. They usually have a good supply in the bubble gum dispenser :)

Writer to the President:  Yeah, but Elliott usually has peanut M&Ms. I ate a clementine instead...a better choice all around.

Data Management Director:  OOOh PEANUT M&Ms!!!!! How was the darling-clementine??

Writer to the President:  Not nearly as darling as peanut M&Ms!!!
At this point, I was interrupted by the Executive Assistant to the President, who asked if I wanted to know where the “stash” was.  When I answered in the affirmative, she showed me, and then used it to refill the bowl, sending the jangling sound of M&Ms through the executive suite.

And then, the Facebook conversation resumed:
Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Board:  Thank you, @Executive Assistant to the President for refilling!!!!!!

Executive Assistant to the President:  All is right with the world.  The bowl has been replenished.

Web Editor:  If it’s empty, don’t look at me.  I am swearing off them!
OK, everybody, now that we’ve had our afternoon break--with or without peanut M&Ms--let’s get back to work!