Since it’s the holidays, I was thinking about something that happened a number of years ago to my mother.
We were living in the UK at the time, and a number of people from the States happened to be passing through during Passover (hee! Puns!). My dad’s oldest friend was joining us, as well as the daughter of one of my mother’s distant cousins, as well as the friend she was traveling with. We had never met this girl before, but my mom loves meeting new family members and always the eager hostess, welcomed everyone with open arms. With my mom, the more people she gets to feed the happier she is. Two days prior to our seder, we received a call from our rabbi, who was desperately trying to help four exchange students from the States. They had absolutely nowhere to go for Passover, and being ex-pats ourselves, thought it would be a real mitzvah to accommodate them. My mom was overjoyed to open her home to these kids.
So it’s the first night of Passover and my mother has somehow managed to manipulate the physical laws of the universe, fitting in my parents, four exchange students, my two brothers, myself, my dad’s friend, my mom’s cousin’s daughter, and my mom’s cousin’s daughter’s friend into our cramped dining room. The exchange students were the nicest people. They thanked my mother profusely for having them, shared stories of their own seders, and were the epitome of good house guests.
My mom’s distant cousin’s daughter was not. Just as my mom was getting ready to start the seder, this girl gets up, disappears for a minute, and returns with an orange, which she proceeded to plop on my mother’s impeccably arranged seder plate (an integral part of the seder which contains items central to the Passover story). She says, “A rabbi once told a woman that women have as much place on the bimah as an orange does on a seder plate, so I’d like to put this here to represent women’s place in Judaism.” My mother, not wanting to make anyone feel uncomfortable, smiled and moved on with the seder. This was particularly reprehensible as this girl came into someone’s home for the purposes of a religious ceremony and butted in with an alteration without even consulting the hostess (it’d be rude even then). I know plenty of other Jews who place an orange at their seder plate, and I think it’s a wonderful tradition, but not when imposing it on your unsuspecting hostess.
Well, we ate and sang until 1am, shared stories, celebrated, and very nearly lapsed into comas from all the food. Needless to say, this girl was officially crossed off the list of people we’d ever be inviting back into our home. 0423-11