The DIY Seder
by Rabbi Menachem Schwartzstein (Reform)

The Passover (or Pesach) approaches again, and good news! After a generation of intermarriage, agnosticism and other forms of Godless decadence, young people are returning to Jewish practice in record numbers.

This has created a problem, however. “Rabbi!” the young people say, addressing me (the Rabbi), “I want to have a Passover Seder, but since my parents spent my formative years beating the bongo drums and shooting up freebase, I wouldn’t know where to begin!”

“A Passover Seder, huh?” I thought. “That sounds like a pretty good idea.” So I dusted off the old Haggadah (or Passover book) my grandfather used to read from, but it was in this weird funny language. I wouldn’t let that stop me, though (who’s the Rabbi here, anyway?) so I found some stuff on the internet, reminisced a bit and made this Do-It-Yourself Seder guide, suitable for use on Passover whether you are a Yid (Jewish person) or Gai-Jin (foreign barbarian).

Seder means “order,” because there’s a specific order to follow. So ‘Seder’ yourself up some Matzo and get ‘cracker-ing.’ (Matzo is like a kind of cracker).

Ok, first up: Kadesh -the recitation of Kiddush. That’s a blessing on the wine, and then drinking it. You have to drink four cups of the stuff during the Seder. Don’t mind if I do!

Urhatz - washing the hands. Pretty straightforward, I myself use water.

Karpas - eating a vegetable dipped in salt-water. Kind of a funny thing to do, but who am I to argue with the internet?

Yachaz - breaking of the middle matzo. OK…you’re supposed to have three of these Matzos on the table, and you’re supposed to break the one in the middle. Most Matzos already come out of the box kind of broken, though, so just pantomime breaking it and say ‘kerrr-ack!’ You’ll probably fool everybody.

Maggid - the recitation of the Haggadah. From what I gather, the Haggadah has kind of a story in it that they made into the movie The 10 Commandments. I don’t suggest sitting down and watching the whole thing, though, since it’s like 5 hours long. Just skip to the part where Heston’s getting yelled at by God. That should get everyone pretty amped.

Rachtsah - washing of the hands a second time. You only have to do this if you got them dirty, since you didn’t, skip!

Motzi- the recitation of the blessing hamotzi. Skip.

Matzah - the recitation of the blessing al Achilas matzo, eating the matzo. Skip.

Moror - eating the bitter herbs. They mean horseradish. If unavailable, use packets of Arby’s Horsey Sauce.

Korech - eating a sandwich of matzo and bitter herbs. My uncle Morty used to do this thing where he’d take a whopping spoonful of horseradish, slop it between two big pieces of Matzo, and shove the whole thing into his mouth at once. And then he’d turn red and snot would just pour out of his nose, and he fanned his mouth with his hands and gagged and slurped down water…I guess you had to be there.

Shulhan Orech - eating the festive meal. Don’t mind if I do!

Tzafun - eating the afikomen. Which is just another piece of matzo. When my grandpa was getting all boring, Uncle Morty would whisper in my ear that he’d give me a dollar if I made a fart noise at the table. Boy did my grandpa let me have it! But who, I ask you, had a crisp new dollar the next day? Actually, grandpa found out about the dollar, too, and made me give it back. (Skip).

Bayrech - the recitation of grace. I don’t know if you’ve ever done Jewish grace, but it takes about half an hour. Do what I did, hide in the bathroom and read Big John’s Joke Book. For convenience, you’ll want to invite less than five guests, or have more than three bathrooms, or just double up and read the knock-knock jokes to each other.

Hallel - the recitation of Hallel psalms of praise. At this point, everybody’s got three cups of wine in them, and we are not a family of drinkers. So everybody’s really sauced, and grandpa’s trying to get us to shut up, and my cousin Shmuel is wailing like a banshee over there, and my little brother David tries to sneak an extra piece of Matzo, and all hell breaks loose. Grandpa ended up throwing Uncle Morty out of the house, and Uncle Morty slashed the tires on grandpa’s Oldsmobile, although grandma said it was probably ‘the blacks,’ and that got my mother started, let me tell you. The next year we didn’t go to Seder at grandpa’s house, and for some reason we were all eating ham sandwiches at a Super 8 in Schenectady. David asked my mom if ham sandwiches were kosher for Passover, and she just told him to shut the hell up, only she didn’t use the word ‘hell.’

Nirtsah - our prayer that God accepts our service. Everyone drinks the last cup of wine, and the Seder ends with everyone toasting to “Next year in Jerusalem,” only Uncle Morty always winked and added, “weather permitting.” Feel free to use that.

Translated from the English, into the Yiddish, then back into English by Shek Baker
Original illustrations by Stephen Levinson