JWR Pesach
April 10, 1998 / 14 Nissan, 5758

Passover is tonight. You've been invited to a seder. Wanna be invited back next year? Mother Wonderful has some indispensable advice for you.

Seder Social Tips

By Mother Wonderful

The eleven commandments from Mt. Pocono, PA HERE ARE THE 10 Commandments from Mt. Pocono, Pa., which instruct seder attendees on the etiquette of the proper behavior for this religious and culinary rite.  The Mt. Pocono commandments, if followed to the letter, hopefully will also ensure that you will be invited to attend the same seder next year. Actually, there are 11 Mt. Pocono Commandments. Pennsylvania is one up on Moses.  In the words of that sage, my mother of Blessed Memory:  "Everybody knows that more is better!"

1. Thou shalt starve thyself for three days before the seder, so you can gobble with the proper gusto several servings of everything that's set before you. At most seders, three or four appetizers are de rigueur. Remember, the more you eat, the better you will endear yourself to everyone — especially the cook, who, hem, hem, may someday be your mother-in-law.

2. Thou shalt rave about the food in the traditional manner. Practice saying, "This is the best (insert the name of any dish served) that I have ever eaten in my life!" until you sound like you really mean it, which in the case of some traditional Passover foods — like soggy pieces of matzo served in lukewarm gefilteh fish broth — will actually be true, inasmuch as new participants have never eaten, must less imagined, that a dish like that ever existed or could be so delicious/awful.

3. Thou shalt leave all wine charts at home.  There is no discernible difference between the '96 (a bad year) and the '84 (a great year) vintages of Concord Grape wine.  They both taste overly sweet. Our family oenophile did upgrade the wines one year, but almost all of the participants complained. So at the next Seder we went back to Concord Grape Wine, and only the the wine maven complained.

4. Thou shalt not chug-a-lug any of the four glasses of wine at the seder. They are meant to be sipped at varying times during the reading of the Haggadah.

5. Thou shalt keep a sharp eye on whatever the person who invited you -- or to whom you hope to endear yourself -- does at every point of the celebration and do likewise.  If you are still not sure of what your reaction to anything should be, look for the most disgruntled face at the dinner table, preferably that of an elderly widow, and do exactly as she does.  This will assure you're being invited again. If you prefer not to ever attend another seder, do the opposite.

6. Thou shalt not think about your arteries during the Seder meal. Everything you will eat will probably contain a cholesterol level of at least 95%.

7. Thou shalt not pile horseradish (bitter herbs) on your matzo during the reading of the Haggadah, unless you have a cold. Properly powerful horseradish is a primitive kosher form of Dristan, guaranteed to clear out all clogged nasal passages in less than 30 seconds.

8. Thou shalt not worry about carrying a tune during the singing of the Passover songs. With the exception of Dayenu, everybody whose ancestors came from a different town in Russia, Poland or Germany sings each song differently.  Just mumble along in a monotone and you'll be one of the gang.

9. Thou shalt not plan to eat and run.  There's another hour's worth of prayers and singing after the meal is over.

10. Thou shalt try to follow the plot of the Haggadah.

11. Thou shalt understand that most of the Haggadah is commentary. While there's a mitzvah to expound on the Exodus story, just remember the essence of the Passover celebration is contained in the Four Questions asked by the youngest child present.

Have a sweet and happy Passover!

Mother Wonderful, aka Myra Chanin, is the author of 5 books including,
Mother Wonderful's Profusely Illustrated Guide to the Proper Preparation of Chicken Soup (Dell Publishing) and a regular culinary and lifestyle commentator on Artbeat, a syndicated radio magazine of the arts broadcast on National Public Radio.

Book now available for online purchase!

© 1998, Mother Wonderful