By Stephanie Lewis
I probably don’t need to explain why I decided NOT to hold Pesach in person this April. But I DO need to explain exactly how that strategy has worked out for me. It all began when a certain generation wasn’t familiar with the latest technology. First a rumor circulated amongst my grandparents that I was planning for us to stand in line for dinner. “Like a buffet?” my grandmother asked. “You know buffets ruin my figure, dear. I can’t resist second helpings.”
Of course I had to inquire, “Where did you hear this news from, Grandma?” It turns out Great Aunt Sophie told everyone I’d announced, “We’ll be holding our Seder In Line this year,” when I actually said, “Online.” And this was just the beginning! Since I couldn’t go inside their homes to give them individual Internet lessons, I tried to teach them over the phone. Getting them all united in conversation was surprisingly simple because I knew how to initiate a conference call. All my elderly relatives had to do was answer their telephones in the usual manner. Once their landlines (yes, you read that correctly!) were all connected, this is how things went down:
Grandpa Harry: (Fancies himself a “techie”) I call dibs on extra cups of wine for my mouse. Heh heh, don’t worry Ethel, a mouse is not a rodent… it’s what I’ll use to scroll through our haggadah once it’s typed into the computer screen for our Sober Seder.
Me: Cyber Seder. Actually Gramps, we’ll be holding real life paper haggadahs in our hands. It’s gonna be all of us on the screen – so we can interact with one another.
Great Aunt Sophie: How exciting! Just like that Willy Wonka movie when the young boy reaches out and grabs an actual chocolate bar straight out of the television set. Only I’ll be serving all of you my matzo ball soup.
Me: Not exactly, Auntie.
Grandpa Harry: But I was looking forward to computerizing the Haggadah so I could run a program that discovers patterns in the Hebrew letters like that famous Rabbi did with Torah Codes. A bushel of parsley says there’s a secret message about Moses!
Grandma Ida: Harry, stop being a big-shot know-it-all and listen to our granddaughter. She may even teach us how to order things from the Amazon Rainforest with free next day delivery.
Great Uncle Sid: And I’m looking forward to that mute button when those six noisy kids of hers start whining for the Afikomen. Either that, or I’ll click the Escape key.
Great Aunt Deborah: Shhhh Sid, she can hear you! This isn’t a private call. It’s like our old party line telephone days, remember?
Great Aunt Sophie: Continue, sweetheart. Explain how delicious my brisket will smell coming from the microphone into their speakers. The others will eventually catch on.
Me: I’m not so sure they will, Aunt Sophie. Why don’t we simplify things and instead of eating an actual dinner online, we’ll just focus on ceremony stuff. That’s the most important part, right?
Grandpa Harry: Good idea. I’ll edit a picture of a seder plate with my new Photoshop program so it’ll have symbolic foods on it. There’s even a filter to change the horseradish from red to white that I can downtown.
Me: Uh, download. But Grandpa, you can hold a tangible seder plate directly in your hands. Okay new idea…just coming to me. Ready folks? We’ll celebrate Passover early. Like right now. On this group phone call. This is it everyone. Ready to sing? 1, 2, 3 … Go! Dai, da-ynu, Dai, da-ynu, Dayenu … Because it is enough. Oy!
Stephanie D. Lewis is on The Huffington Post and OnceUponYourPrime.com