It wasn’t my grandfather’s Seder. Nor (for that matter), was it my father’s. Heck, it wasn’t even my brother’s…but it worked.

Unlike Passover with the Sharp side, Bogart Seders, for thirty years conducted by our dad, were typically austere, rarely fun, and but for one hour and twenty minutes of evening-ending songs, generally tedious. Indeed, for two nights each spring Al Bogart put down the cigarettes, laid down his Bicycles, and dealt the family hours of rigid liturgy. No laughing; no smiling; no English.

Things loosened a bit when Dad died. Time, change, and generations. Whereas he’d learned to doven at home daily with HIS father, (picture Judge Hardy), Hal and I were baby-boomers, groomed thrice weekly in Park Synagogue’s suburbia. Our Dad learned isolated from a pious rebbe…call it Orthodox Light. We knew more than our friends, but by all accounts, couldn’t shine our father’s tefillen.

So when they buried our patriarch in ’85 it was inevitable that the times would be a changin’. And so they did. I can’t quite remember how it was…the demise of my marriage expedited matters. In any event Hal and Margie wound up hosting the thrust of the holidays. Jersey Girl went south; I became the Wandering Jew—-and there we were at H’s.

The past few years, though, I’ve tried to carry my end. Aided by Chef Kurland, the second Seder’s been mine. The virgin effort two years ago was somewhat spotless. Having secured Betty as kitchen help, we even had comic relief with almost-cousin Stuart and almost mobile cousin Sheila. She slept through her pick up; he slept through the dinner.

Holiday last year was overshadowed by Mom’s passing. Michael, Meredith and Stacy were in so we all convened…once again….at Margie’s for a truly ecumenical evening. Brother Weiskopf debuted; Stuart The Semi-pedaphile (awake) returned; even the mother of my children joined in.

Last night I had home court advantage again. It was neither fluid nor traditional, but new generations forge new traditions. Time was you’d recognize Seder’s end by Grandma Bogart et. al. rising for “Hatikvah.” Monday my brother augmented the ritual adding “God Bless America” to the repertoire.

Tuesday, though, was my show. With kids scattered across the country, attendance fell to seven. As such, we 86’d Betty and Margie served. Moreover, through miscommunication we were one table short, occasioning us to sit around a surface no longer than Herschel. And so it was that Hal and I broke matzah with Caroline, Amy, Margie, Renee (Hal’s mother/in/law) and Aunt Helen (playing herself). The usual suspects.

It was a far cry from the seders our father ran…when crowd size mandated a leaf in the table…when Hal was compelled to say the Four Questions a capella/ when assistance by anyone would have brought glares from the Old Man…and when, yes…..….there were only ten plagues.

Which leads me to our NEWEST tradition: the eleventh plague. March 30 our family, in unison, dipped a collective middle finger in the wine for an additional affliction: Itzy…(Dr. Turner)…(Mr. Ed).

In that moment, amid the release of laughter, no one noticed how short the table was nor cared that water filled the wine glasses. We were one, and like our people that had fled Egypt years ago, we too had survived.

We survived Itzy.

One Response to “MODERN FAMILY”

  1. alan wieder says:

    This is great. I want a pic of your aunt dipping her finger. I was in London eating tandorri — ooooy vey

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