For years, I dreaded Passover and especially the Seder. In my traditionally Orthodox family, these affairs went on forever. We read every word of the Haggadah and listened to copious amounts of Midrashic commentary, often from the mouths of children angling for prizes. These affairs went on until the wee hours of the morning with the meal being served at midnight.
This year I went to friends in New Haven (as I have in the past and chronicled at length for Salon) and yet again, we smoke and drank quite a bit before the seder began.
The result? The most sexually innuendo-ish religious ritual I’ve ever attended. (And I’ve been to quite a lot of the Jewish and inappropriate variety.)
It started innocently enough with reading the Haggadah in translation but who knew there would be so many references to enslavement and bondage in a story and that having three queenie guys (and one sex fixated straight girl) read those passages would add a layer of delicious innuendo to basically everything?
“He went down to Egypt,” is how one paragraph-translation-began. The next paragraph started, “They lingered there,” referring to the Israelites’ 200+ year stay. To which one of the seder participants exclaimed, “Cunni-lingered!” (I guess that’s why the Israelites, at least the female ones, stayed so long.)
Of Pitom and Ramses, the two treasure cities that the enslaved Israelites were forced to construct for their leather daddies, er, I mean overseers, we concluded these sounded like a good name for a gay bar. (Any potential investors out there?)
Who knew the Haggadah could be so much fun?
Other seder gems included:
Winner for gayest and Jewiest sentence uttered: “It’s really hard to find a good haircut that looks good regularly and under a kippah.”
A discussion under which circumstances any of the three gay men at the table would be willing to go down on women. The resolution: deep fried vagina. Why? “Because everything fried tastes good,” said one.
“The haggadah is like a 16-year-old boy’s porno mag–sticky with so many pages stuck together.” (Yeah, I said that one.)
And a new addition to the Four Questions: Why did Jonathan Safran Foer take so much time away from his own writing to singlehandedly reinvent the Haggadah for all of us American Jews?
(No, really–he said that. Here’s a direct quote from his essay in The New York Times: “I spent much of the last several years working on a new Haggadah — the guidebook for the prayers, rituals and songs of the Seder — and am often asked why I would want to take time away from my own writing to invest myself in such a project.”)
We never came up with a satisfactory answer but having read through this groundbreaking volume of Judaica, I can safely state that Mr. Foer needn’t ever sacrifice on behalf of humanity in such a way ever again. Stick to self-righteous vegetarian treatises from now on.