Last night we had our makeshift Passover seder. Gabe did manage to find matzoh and horseradish at the big department store, but we had to make do with tuna instead of gefilte fish (oh darn.) For the bitter herbs, he bought ondives, which we supplemented with the bunch of parsley the lady had tucked into our bag at the market last week.

Gabe printed out one of the shorter scripts he could find, and we dutifully read and sang our way through the plagues and prayers. It was way less fun without his cousins around to clown each other, and I especially missed the wonderful plague bags that his sister makes every year, with toys to represent each of the ten plagues. It was also a lot quieter without the kids running around trying to find the afikomen, although I was thrilled to be able to read the four questions, as for the first and probably only time ever, I was officially the youngest child present.

Gabe’s family, being Sephardic Jews from Morocco, does something very special on Passover. Right at the beginning, they sing a song to acknowledge all the people who couldn’t be there, whether passed on or absent. The officiant of the evening walks around the room with the seder plate while everyone sings, passing it over each person or couple or family’s heads. People call in from all over the world, and everyone holds up their cell phones to let their far away loved ones be part of that particular moment. It’s a very emotional part of the ritual, and I’m a big fan.

This year, we added a 21st century twist to it: we did it on Skype. Gabe called his parents in California, who were just getting ready for lunch while we were starting our seder, and we all sang it together. Gabe passed the seder plate over each of our heads, and then over my computer, letting his parents be a part of our blessing. What a marvelous thing, technology.

But by far the best part of the whole evening was the wine, which a friend had brought for us ages ago. We’d saved it for a special occasion, largely because of the label:

The wine is called “Valley of the Jews,” but for some reason features a church on the label, complete with a massive cross on it. Ah, yes. Because nothing tastes better with bitter herbs than sweet, sweet irony.

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