Why is this night different from all the other nights?

Or, to tell the traditional Passover joke:

A Jewish physicist in the UK was about to get knighted by the Queen. There was a long line of recepients waiting for the ceremony and they were all instructed what to say/chant once they come to face the Queen. The physicist kept silently practicing the obligatory words, but when his time finally arrived he got so nervous he forgot what he was supposed to say. So he started singing the only song he could remember “Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot…”
The Queen looked at him, then looked at her advisor and asked:
“Why is this knight different from all the other knights?”

If you are Jewish, you have heard it a million times. If you are not, you don’t think it’s funny…
Anyway, after several days of cleaning the house (well, it has to be done once a year anyway, so why not make sure that it actually gets done by setting the Passover date as the deadline each year?), we had a Seder at our home. We’ve been hosting for ten or so years now and this was the first time we actully had more Jews in attendance than non-Jews. We usually try to mix it up as much as possible – races, ages, sexual preferences, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, etc. and this year was no exception. Which means it was great fun as always and as heretical as can be.
Usually we use a Haggadah I made by putting together bits and pieces of several modern versions, including secular humanist, feminist and environmentalist haggadah. But this year we used a Liberation Haggadah (similar but not identical to this one) which was pretty godless on top of being Marxist – to the point of being a spoof of itself. After all, does anyone really believe that Jewish slaves in Egypt a couple of millenia ago met for committee meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays to plot the socialist revolution!? Fun was had by all.
Of course, the central focus is the food which was delicious! Mrs.Coturnix fixes the best matzo-ball soup ever, and she can make it vegetarian as well (this and last year she did as we actually had vegetarians at the table). So, instead of the shank bone on the Seder plate, we used a bone-shaped milkbone doggy-treat….Oh, and the salmon was amazing!!!
EvolutionWine.jpggenesis%20cabernet.jpgI am not a regular drinker, but when I do drink, I want the best. So, no sweet Manischewitz in our house! We always have a bottle of the Evolution wine in the fridge, but this year we never got to it as there were so many good reds to drink before it. I resisted the temptation to buy Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon, as Passover is really about Exodus, and I could not find an “Exodus” wine (does it exist?).
And, arrrggggh, how did we forget to put an orange on the Seder plate – it would have been so meaningful this year.

11 responses to “Why is this night different from all the other nights?

  1. Thanks for drinks and the links. I had Baron Herzog Cabernet this evening. I was wondering where that spurt of traffic came from.

  2. I’ve never heard of an “Exodus” wine, but I can say that Hogue Genesis — both the cabernet and the merlot — is a great wine, very drinkable.

  3. If you are not, you don’t think it’s funny…
    I’m not Jewish, but I thought it was funny! 🙂

  4. But, what I want to know is: Was he the YOUNGEST among the potential knights?
    And did he find the matzo?
    The story ended way too soon.

  5. Susan Sokol Blosser’s Evolution has been one of our favorites for years. Of course we’re a bit biased towards Oregon wines…

  6. So a Jew walks into a barroom in Queens. He has a frog on his shoulder. He walks up to the bar. The frog says, “I’d like a shot of Laphroaig and a little Manischevits for my friend”. The barkeep is astounded. “My god!” he says, “a talking frog!. Where did you get him?”
    The frog replys: “Brooklyn, they are thousands of them. They are all over the place!”

  7. Greensmile: That’s funny! And i’ll try the Baron Herzog Cabernet.
    Dave: Good to know since it’s sold in my store up the street. I’ll get it next time.
    Melissa: Oh, but you are worldly and knowledgable so you ‘got’ all the undelying innuendo 😉
    Teresa: Hmmm, good questions. I’ll have to ask around….
    Sir Oolius: At last year’s Passover, we did get to open the Evolution. It is always carried by the local store and I tend to always have a bottle or two at home.

  8. I recommend the newer South African wines, especially from the Tall Horse joint venture. Inexpensive, and they have an excellent shiraz.
    I ask my atheist friends with Christmas trees this, too – why do you, as a non-religious person, celebrate passover, a rather religious festival?

  9. It is fun! You get to eat great food taht you would not normally fix. You get to drink as much wine as you want without your wife giving you sidewise glances. You get to spend an evening with some great people – friends who you do not see every day. Actually, stripping all the religious stuff out of it, out of Hagaddah and the rituals, etc., makes the whole proceedings even more fun.

  10. Jewish Genius
    Charles Murray
    Commentary Magazine
    April 2007
    Since its first issue in 1945, COMMENTARY has
    published hundreds of articles about Jews and Judaism.
    As one would expect, they cover just about every
    important aspect of the topic. But there is a lacuna,
    and not one involving some obscure bit of Judaica.
    COMMENTARY has never published a systematic discussion
    of one of the most obvious topics of all: the
    extravagant overrepresentation of Jews, relative to
    their numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences,
    law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the
    I have personal experience with the reluctance of Jews
    to talk about Jewish accomplishment?my co-author, the
    late Richard Herrnstein, gently resisted the
    paragraphs on Jewish IQ that I insisted on putting in
    The Bell Curve (1994). Both history and the
    contemporary revival of anti-Semitism in Europe make
    it easy to understand the reasons for that reluctance.
    But Jewish accomplishment constitutes a fascinating
    and important story. Recent scholarship is expanding
    our understanding of its origins.
    And so this Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa hereby
    undertakes to tell the story. I cover three topics:
    the timing and nature of Jewish accomplishment,
    focusing on the arts and sciences; elevated Jewish IQ
    as an explanation for that accomplishment; and current
    theories about how the Jews acquired their elevated

  11. Your Seder sounds great! I have no religion, believe only in the good earth and power of positive people, but consider myself a good Jewish mother. This year had a Seder with just my 13 year old daughter. We used “Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb”. I like the idea of the orange, too. I’d like to come to your Seder next year. BTW–I down loaded the Seder you suggested for editing for next year. Thanks!