April 9, 2015


Sometimes, my husband jokes that he married me for my matzoh ball soup. At least, I think he’s joking. He might be a little bit serious.

When we married, I made very good matzoh ball soup. Now, I make freaking fantastic matzoh ball soup. I’d tell you how I make it, but it takes several days, and you don’t have the time to read all of that any more than I have the time to write it. Suffice it to say the process involves two different chickens.

Because I need a showcase for the aforementioned soup, we host the Seder every year. I also serve brisket, which every year has been dry and flat tasting. Most likely because I cooked it in a slow cooker and just dumped some stuff on it. This year, my friend sent me her husband’s brisket recipe. The recipe was two-and-a-half, single-spaced pages. It was a two-day process.

Naturally, I had to try said recipe. It was like the Ron Dermer to the Netanyahu of my matzoh ball soup. No? Too soon?

Anyway, we invited family, who didn’t come, and a number of friends. Benjamin complained none of his friends were invited, whereupon I pointed out that all his friends have big families living nearby. Zachary complained none of his friends were invited, whereupon I pointed out that none of his friends are Jewish.

Both of the families who accepted the invitation had one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent. When I invited the family of Lilah’s friend, David, the dad asked if his mother’s best friend, Nancy—a retired history teacher—could join us. Nancy would be in visiting from Cleveland. It’s rude to leave your houseguest from Cleveland behind. For reasons that have nothing to do with Cleveland.

So, what with getting up at five on Thursday morning to start the brisket and the two-day matzoh ball soup and scouring the internet for the perfect charoset recipe, it didn’t so much cross my mind till on or about Friday morning that we only have service for twelve. And twelve Haggadot. And twelve matching napkins. We resolved this by cleverly mixing one different thing into each place setting. One person got a different appetizer plate, another got a different fork, another got a mismatched napkin. Two people shared a Haggadah. It was sort of a Martha-Stewart Jedi mind trick.

It was a lovely Seder with delightful company. Hebrew School seems to be paying off and all. I missed Miriam’s cup because I was in the kitchen pulling something out of the oven, and I spent good chunk of time serving up soup, and then there was the big reveal of the tszimmis, the quinoa, and the two-day brisket. So, perhaps I can be forgiven for not getting much time to talk to Nancy, the stranger at my table.

And that’s why is wasn’t until after Elijah had come and gone, after the first load of dishes were in the dishwasher, after we’d shared the afikomen, that I discovered I accidentally had a nun at my Seder.

I mean, how many of you have ever gotten to say that? It’s not a sentence frequently uttered. Nuns aren’t particularly common at Seders.

It turns out Nancy was having such a lovely time, she didn’t even realize she’d had beef instead of fish on Good Friday. Or maybe the brisket was just that good.

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  • Reply Chris M. April 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    While I have never heard of a nun going to a seder, I’ve been the atheist at a number of seders. It’s generally fun, particularly being named Christian. The hosting families are always very interested in my take on the whole thing. Generally, I say that I appreciate the food, the cultural insights that I gain when participating and in as polite terms as possible, I’ll say that I think the whole thing is utter and complete nonsense (should they really push, most hosts don’t). Regardless of all of that, I want leftover Matzo Ball soup next year. It’s quite honestly the ONLY soup that I actually enjoy.

  • Reply magpie April 9, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Oh, what a perfect story. I think that made my day.

  • Reply Allen shapiro December 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Wonderful writings obviously you are big into motherhood. You should publish a complete book of these stories

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