Torture: Invention Wanted

Because my wife and I come from different religious traditions, we had this crack-brained idea that we would expose our children to a variety of religious experiences as they grew up. For the most part, this consisted of torturing them and ourselves with various highly mainstream religious services, but since my wife felt drawn back to her roots, we attended a lot of Passover Seders - the kind sponsored by the local temple at a hotel. If you are lucky, you will be seated with your surgeon and a middle-aged couple visiting from Mars. If you are unlucky - and I invariably am - you will be seated with a local political candidate, a retired insurance executive from New Jersey, and your surgeon's embittered teenaged children.

Passover commemorates the Children of Israel's miraculous escape from something or other, followed by 40 rollicking years in the desert. In commemoration, the Seder also lasts approximately the same four decades. Most of the service is spent reading fragments of Exodus and commentary thereon, in Hebrew, English, and translitterated Hebrew, while trying to figure out whether you are more likely to die of boredom, hunger, or a diabetic coma induced by the heavily sugared wine. The high point for me are the passages considered important enough to be given in English, Hebrew, and Hebrew translitterated into the English alphabet, since I can then amuse myself by trying to relearn the Hebrew alphabet, and translate the words.

Anyway, these cheerful memories inspired me to wonder if the people who put together the "Ten Minute Hamlet" might do the same for the Passover Seder. I tried the web, with no direct hits, but there was a "Thirty Minute Seder." The site promised that it could be done in 30 to 60 minutes, which, translated from HST, still works out to about 40 years.

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