Saturday, April 10, 2004

Passover at aunt Mira's

I miss aunt Mira's Passover parties. She probably still has them but Passover is not an easy time for me to visit Boston, so I never get to be there.

Mira's Passover parties used to have 30-40 guests, and therefore were of the kind where guests are instructed to bring food or drink. Mira is not a religious person, but is sociable in such a way that one could never be sure if there were to be real religious people in attendance, and since secular Jews usually do not trust their own understanding of Kashrut, and for a good reason too, everybody has always considered it safer to bring booze than food, since even the most secular Jew can obtain strictly Kosher booze by going to a liquor store and picking up a bottle whose label says "Kosher for Passover". Mira knew about this tendency of her guests, and compensated quite a bit for it, but the end result always was a lot of drink and a very moderate amount of food.

Folks usually got a good head start on wine and liquor before the ritual, since assembling everyone and everything tended to take a while. By the time everyone was there some of the weaker people were already in no condition to imbibe the ritual 4 glasses, which however never stopped them from doing it.

When the ritual was set to begin people usually remembered that a Haggadah is an important part of it, and the Great Annual Search for the Damn Haggadah ensued, which was in a way more fun than the traditional search for a piece of matzo. Finally the Haggadah was found and it was discovered, much to the amazement of the participants, that this Hebrew-language Haggadah had not miraculously grown a phonetic transcription since the previous Passover. A general call for a Hebrew-speaking or at least Hebrew-reading person was issued, and after a lot of shouting and waving hands some elderly Israeli relative was extracted from a sofa in a far room, or from under the table, or from any other place where elderly Israeli relatives pass out when they have had too much to drink. The Israeli usually looked at the Haggadah and whined that he does not know any biblical Hebrew; but after a thunderous chorus of "who cares, nobody understands anything anyway" diligently tried to read it to us.

When the ritual started all the already drunk grannies noticed for at least 80th time that the Passover ritual requires 4 cups of wine, and with loud complains about such ungodly (?) requirements and the effect of alcohol on their heart, stomachs and other internal organs drank at least 8.

After having drunk all the ritual booze nobody complained about anything and the party continued in the most merry way. It was usually ended with some exercise: trying to insert elderly relatives into back seats of cars. At that level of drunkennes it was almost as much fun and almost as challenging as inserting a playful octopus in your purse.

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