MTV = Mark Twain Village. 2005 is obviously a year. The specific date was the 23rd of April. I thought about waiting till then to post, but, since Passover dates float – it wouldn’t make much sense to post it them. If you were on my email list way back when – you have seen this post before. Admittedly, I really don’t expect you to have any recollection of whatever I was scribbling 15 years ago, but there you are. It is a serious contact to both life here retired in the SF Bay Area. And the current reality of living in a “plague” year.
23 April 2005, Saturday
Mark Twain Village Chapel, Heidelberg Germany
Wasn’t up too very long before I had my list of everything that I had forgotten, resulting in a PX run for a couple of knives, cutting boards, dishpan, mixing bowl, and the like.
Oh, did I mention getting the turkey in the oven before I left? Which, of course, led to the usual discussion of how to set the oven. Since I am not the expert on how to cook various assorted kinds of bird, fowl, fish, and beast, I normally defer to George and the kids. They got out the manuals for the oven, a couple of cook books, and looked up cooking times.
I will say that the freezer bag did an excellent job of keeping the bird nice and cold. So I adjusted the cooking time for ice bird, rather than counted on frosted bird. This, unfortunately occurred at the same time George decided that he liked the idea of convection AND conventional heat. ARGH! (end of the story is we wound up on low heat and sealing said bird in with foil a whole lot earlier than planned.)
Dropped the crew and the first part of the supplies around 1600. Got the kids to help set up, haul out trash that no one recognized as trash the night before (go figure), and do one more sweep of the floor. We also brought down the supplies that Aleph had donated (same plastic prestocked and printed Seder plates we used last year downrange, matzoh, grape juice) since our small chapel area is off to the right of the main sanctuary. It was at this point I discovered two key points:
The first was that there was a Catholic Mass at 1700. The second, and much more problematic, was that in spite of arranging for use of the kitchen and downstairs hall, no one had bothered to put the Seder on the Chapel Calendar. As a result, the Catholic Congregation was expecting to be able to use the Fellowship Hall that evening.
I talked to one of their senior people. He was not at all pleasant. Neither was the same Little-Old-Lady that was the PIA yesterday. I quietly pointed out that this event happens once a year. I had arranged for exclusive use of the fellowship hall and the kitchen with the Chapel staff, and thought that part of the duty of the Chapel staff was to inform the other congregations, and to put things on the calendar. He allowed this was so. The priest came in about then. He is active duty. He is staff at this chapel. He did understand, but had no clue.
Don’t these people ever talk to each other?
Meanwhile, we beat feet back downstairs and put up polite signs that said, thank you…….
By the time 1800 rolled around, just about everyone had arrived. The tables were set up in a U with munchies on the tables. Nina put out juice, salt water, and matzoh. Noah opened up everything needing cutting open with his trusty pocket knife. With the addition of Kerstin and Bill’s three, we had enough kids to get everything ready. Plus, with adults getting the last of the kitchen prep done, by 1830 we actually were ready to start the Seder. Matzo balls cooked, the soup simmering on the back of the stove, vegetables warming, and the turkey on hold in the oven. Yep, all the food ready.
I think the end head count was ~33, five families with kids, and a number of singles making up the numbers. Bill brought his guitar and some printed music as well as some transliterations to make it easier.
If you have never been to a Seder, it is hard to describe, except to say that it is an ordered and orderly set of rituals and prayers reviewing the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. There are foods and prayers for different parts, cups of wine, a recitation of plagues and lots of songs. There was more than enough food for everyone, and then some.
For those of you who have – we balanced a traditional Seder with the realities of kids – we started well before sundown (2130 at this northern latitude), we skipped several sections (the rabbis talking about all of the days and all of the nights). We took turns reading, the two youngest attempted the four questions with a lot of help from everyone else. And, there was more than enough charoseth, matzoh, horseradish and other bitter herbs for half a dozen Hillel sandwiches each.
The final menu:
Matzoh Ball Soup (vegetable broth)
We did not throw frogs, put an orange on the Seder plate, or put out Miriam’s cup.
The kids ate enough they did not argue about opening the door for Elijah, singing or cleaning up. For that matter, we even got the afikomen back without a bribe.
Everyone helped with cleanup. We split the remaining food, sending care packages home with all the singles so that they would have several days supply. Getting home, I decided that I was not going to be making the drive out to the field site tonight.