Moses was a jerk, & Passover wouldn’t have happened without five women.

Re-up from a couple years back, but every word (down to “tonight is the start of the second holiday” and “writing about Passover on Easter Sunday”) is true again, so here ye be! This is the kind of stuff I like to think about. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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Moses appears to be a bit doubtful that this is going to end well.

It really does seem that every year, Passover goes by faster. One minute I’m hyperventilating over the inhuman amount of cleaning, the next minute I’m all “what, it’s over?” But here we are. Tonight is the start of the second holiday, the one that closes the week, and then boom – it’s back to bread*. What this means for you, dear reader, is that I won’t be posting on Monday (it being a holiday and all) – so instead, here I am on Easter Sunday, writing one more time about Passover.

On the whole Passover dealio, let’s be honest.

Anyone who knows anything about Passover (and is over the age of 10) already knows the main message: Let my people go, freedom from slavery, big-ass crackers instead of fluffy bread for a week, etc and so on. (And by the way, if you’re under the age of 10, you really shouldn’t be reading this blog).

However! There are other messages that emerge from the story, if you poke around and look a little, messages that are also powerful and necessary.

Like the fact that people can change. That even the worst dregs of humanity can turn their lives around — can, perhaps, become heroes.

Like Moses.

Do you know who Moses was before he became the dude who stared Pharaoh down, the great prophet, the redeemer of the Israelites, the fella who got to go up to the mountain and chat with The Holy One Blessed Be He?

He was a confused princeling with anger issues — and a murderer, to boot!

Moses was ultimately raised in Pharaoh’s family, but he was cared for early in life by his biological mother, and he knew he wasn’t really Egyptian. One fine day, he “went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors” — which is to say, there he was, all dressed up in his royal finery, watching the slaves go about their business (survivor’s guilt, anyone?). Seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses did what any of us would do: He turned to his adoptive father and asked that reforms be instituted.

No, no! I kid!

He killed the dude. And hid the body. (Exodus, chapter 2, if you’re wondering).

Discovering the next day that there were witnesses (and I have to ask: How was this a surprise, exactly? Dude was a prince. How exactly did he think he would not be noticed in the act of killing someone?), he runs away to the land of Midian, where he becomes a shepherd, a husband, a father, and a prophet (in that order).

So, to recap: Moses is a murderer. And then he becomes the savior of his people.

We don’t really know what happened to Moses in the intervening years, up until the point where “a long time after that, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to God” — but I’m guessing quite a lot. One doesn’t move from life as a prince to life as a shepherd, or abandon murderous anger for hesitant, self-effacing leadership, without undergoing an internal change or two.

But no matter who you are, or who your enemy is, or what that annoying asshole at work or in elective office did or said — there is always room for change. As long as there is life, there remains the possibility for genuine, even earth-shattering redemption.

And I’ll go one further: Sometimes our heroes are the people we most despise.

Sure, Moses is the prophet. Sure, he was the one who turned his life around and saved his people.

But he would never have gotten the chance if it weren’t for Pharaoh’s daughter — the actual child of the evil emperor.

When you read the story of Moses-in-the-bullrushes (Exodus 1), it emerges that five women (I’ll just repeat that: FIVE WOMEN) are the real heroes here:

  1. The two Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who refused to kill the baby boys despite Pharaoh’s decree
  2. Moses’s biological mother, who hides him at home and then hides him where he might be found and kept alive
  3. Moses’s sister Miriam, who stands watch over him and has the courage to offer her help to Pharaoh’s daughter
  4. Pharaoh’s daughter, who plucks Moses out of his basket, agrees that Miriam should find him a wet-nurse, and then pays Moses’s mother to care for him.

Reading the story, it becomes blindingly obvious that the daughter of Pharaoh — who, let’s just recall, was heinous enough to order the mass murder of infants — knew exactly what she was doing. And that without her, the efforts of the other four women would have been for naught.

She says, straight up: “This must be a Hebrew child.” Then another child, who could only have been equally recognizably Hebrew, pops up out of the bullrushes and offers to find a wet-nurse — and then a wet-nurse is instantly found.

Pharaoh’s daughter had to know — and she went with it. She saved the baby, gave him back to his mother for as long as she could get away with it, and then raised the child as her own.

So on top of the freedom-from-slavery thing (which is, don’t get me wrong, a very, very good message), here’s another message that I get out of Passover:

No one’s life is predetermined. We cannot know what people are capable of, we cannot know who will save us. We cannot even know about ourselves.

We can only open the basket in the reeds. We can only listen to whatever voice of goodness and grace we hear, whether by water’s edge, or while moving sheep from point A to point B. We can only make ourselves available.

And believe that redemption is real.

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Though we live in America, we’re Israelis-in-exile, so we observe the holidays in keeping with the customs of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), which means a seven-day Passover. Most observant Diaspora Jews keep eight days — that is, through Tuesday.

Fantasy Seder – like Fantasy Football. Only nerdier.

Jon Stewart at a table that is clearly not a Seder Table as there are rolls present.

Jon Stewart at a table that is clearly not a Seder Table as there are rolls present.

Americans have a penchant for making lists and imagining scrupulously constructed alternate realities in which we, the individual Americans, play a central role. Dungeons and Dragons comes to mind, as does Fantasy Football. Not to mention the List of Five popularized by Friends.

Which is the closest I can come to an explanation for the fact that if you were to look closely at the insides of my brain you would find—tucked behind all the other brick-a-bat—my Fantasy Seder List. Because (apparently) being an egghead who likes a good Ottoman joke isn’t quite nerdy enough.

The rules undergirding the Fantasy Seder are as simple as they are few: To make it in the imaginary door, the potential guest has to be 1) Jewish (duh); 2) alive (double duh); and 3) a complete stranger to me (this is why we call it “a fantasy” and not “an actual guest list”).

Jon Stewart.

I figured I should just get that out of the way, because of course Jon Stewart. I’m an American Jew of a decidedly liberal bent with delusions of low-brow intellectualism. Of course Jon Stewart. The only reason he’s not on my List of Five is because I’m afraid I’d fall in love, and then where would my marriage be? Fantasy Seder it is.

And if Jon Stewart, then Adam Sandler. Sandler and Stewart go way back, and it’s always nice when people have friends at a party!

Now, I will confess that there exists a not inconsiderable handful of Sandler movies of which I am… not a fan. But I did like Zohan and Fifty First Dates, and I loved Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People—but more importantly, every time I see him interviewed, I’m impressed with one very simple fact: Adam Sandler is a mensch. It oozes from his pores, you can see it plain as day. I think he’d be ferrying food to the table, and trying to help ease my nerves. And I’d be apologizing awkwardly for admitting in public that I’m not a huge fan of some of his movies, because frankly, that wasn’t very nice of me.

Here the list grows a little more random: Peter Himmelman — semi-obscure rocker with a decades-spanning career, scorer of popular TV shows such as Bones and Men in Trees, Grammy-nominated children’s performer, son-in-law to Bob Dylan (yes, really), and Orthodox-ish. Himmelman is very, very invited. According to one of my favorite radio DJs of all time (Terri Hemmert, WXRT-Chicago, not Jewish, so not invited), he’s a fascinating conversationalist who’s as likely to talk about philosophy and theology as he is about rock n’ roll or his kids. Heck, I’d even have the event catered for him, as I suspect my Conservative Movement kitchen might not be kosher enough.

The Gyllenhaal siblings are also a shoo-in, though I fear I would jibber and jabber—and possibly giggle—over Jake. Given that I presume my husband will also be attending (not to mention Jon Stewart), fingers crossed that I keep that in check. And Maggie—the presence of Jake’s way-too-cool-for-the-likes-of-me sister might also impose a certain respectability. One can only hope.

And oh, oh! Barney Frank! Totally! I would feel not nearly smart enough to talk with him directly, but I would love to her him chatting with, say, Peter Himmelman. Or with Jack Black! Who is, of course, also invited. Can you imagine Barney Frank and Jack Black conversating over the harosest? Dude. To be a fly on that wall!

And you know Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan will have their invitations printed on the good stationary—but I don’t think I’d let them sit next to each other. Or next to Barney Frank. They’d start talking about the other Justices, or get going on DC insider-baseball, and we’d all be like, “What up Elena, Barney, and Ruth Bader? Talk with the rest of the class!” No, we’ll have to scatter the Washington types amongst the entertainers. I’ll make a note.

Finally, Terry Gross. First of all, she knows everything but is utterly charming about it. Second of all, she really, really likes musicals. Third of all, if there’s anyone on earth who could keep a conversation going among such an odd group of weirdly gathered individuals, you know it would be her.

And there’s your minyan! Mind you, my family and I round the number up to 14, which is neither round nor has any meaning in our religious tradition, but whatevs. If I can get Jon, Adam, Peter, Maggie, Jake, Barney, Jack, Elena, Ruth, and Terry to come to my house? I’ll deal with it.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Dear Jake Gyllenhaal – Pleasepleaseplease come to my Fantasy Seder!

Uhhh….

Remember when I said that Jake Gyllenhaal is invited to my Fantasy Seder?

Now he’s not only invited, but I think I’m in love.

*

I’m sure the husband will understand.

And Jake will not find this creepy in the least.

My Daily Beast column: “Dear Israel, This Is Why I Left”

In this week’s Daily Beast/Open Zion column, I tell Israel why I left. Not that I’m sure they’re listening or anything, but there it is.

Following you’ll find the top of my column – to read the rest, please click here, and as I say every time I post: Really! Please click! I’m by far the least known quantity over there, and swimming with the big fish is both an honor, and nerve-wracking. Any attention will be most gratefully appreciated!

I lived in Tel Aviv for 14 years, and having been back in America for almost as long, still miss it every day. At Passover, that longing becomes an almost physical weight in my chest.

The smells of springtime Chicago aren’t right, and neither is the culture. I want to be surrounded by people who know why I’m frantic in the lead-up to the Seder, bus drivers wishing me a hag sameah, and neighbors asking “where are you for the holiday?” I want to be home.

But I’m not home. Instead I’m in the gentle exile of American suburbia—a self-imposed, political exile that I undertook for the sake of my children.

When the second intifada broke out, my Jerusalemite husband and I were temporarily in the US as I worked toward my Masters degree at the University of Chicago. We assured everyone (over and over) that we would be back in Israel by the time our just-born son went to kindergarten—it would be easier, we figured, if he started school in the country where he’d be growing up.

But then the intifada ground on. And Israel responded with increasing violence, and a steadfast refusal to admit any culpability, or need to make good on past promises, or understanding that the Palestinians were reacting as we would, had we been occupied for decades on end.

For a year my husband and I wrestled with our fears, not even sharing them with each other—then one day, when home for a visit with our son, we began to talk, and realized: We didn’t want to raise children in that place. The Jewish State was no longer a place in which we wanted to build a family—“for the time being.”

In the meantime, “the time being” has become our lives. The boy was joined by a girl, birthdays have come and gone, and nothing about Israel in the past decade has convinced us that our Israeli children should leave the galut.

To read the rest — honest to Pete, please click here.

Israel and the heart of a stranger.

The very existence of the Jewish people is predicated on the notion that the arc of the universe bends toward justice. We were slaves in Egypt, we’re told, strangers in a strange land, and then we were freed – and it was only upon being freed that we could receive the Torah, learn who we are, and become a people.

The collective memory of that cruel oppression serves as the bedrock for all modern Jewish efforts to bend the universe’s arc yet further, in social justice movements anywhere and everywhere. We are called to remember our bondage, our strangeness, and act righteously toward those in need of God’s hand.

“You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless, you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn,” we read in Deuteronomy. “Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there.”

Every year, as I approach the celebration of our freedom, I cannot help but think of the more than four million souls – strangers to us – in the Palestinian territories, too many of them fatherless or widowed by Israeli hands.  The dead, the hungry, those without medicine, those without hope – an entirely human-constructed calamity.

There are many arguments swirling around Israel’s control of Palestinian lands, many fears, many military concerns. I know that the conflict is, in fact, a conflict – too many of my fellow Israelis have been left fatherless and widowed at Palestinian hands as well, and the Palestinian leadership has made many bad decisions. I have no doubt that Israel will have to remain on its guard, should we finally do the right thing and release our strangle-hold on the lives of the strangers in our midst. Decades of mutually murderous rage do not end without leaving a mark.

But refusing to admit the power disparity between Israel and the Palestinians, refusing to acknowledge our own guilt, refusing to admit that our real world actions have real world consequences, is simply not a moral alternative.

We seem to forget: One side of the equation is occupied, the other occupier. One side has the power to decide who and what goes in and out of Gaza, who and what goes where in the West Bank, and the other – the side that actually lives in in those places – does not.

To continue this way – to continue the occupation, and the stealing of land for settlements, and the blockade of Gaza, to continue policies that leave children hungry and parents without income, to continue treating the Palestinians as if they were somehow less human, less worthy of dignity, than we — is a shanda, a disgrace.

The occupation, the blockade of Gaza, and all they entail are an affront to all that is good and right about Judaism. They are an affront to Moses,  and Sinai, and all those who have tried for centuries to remember that we, too, were once strangers in a strange land.

“And a stranger you shall not oppress,” we read in Exodus, the very book of our freedom, “for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

We know the heart of the stranger, for we were once strangers ourselves.

May this be the Passover in which we choose to act on our own story, choose to know the heart of the stranger we have occupied for nearly 45 years, choose to remember the command given us by God as we stood before Him in the desert. May this be the Passover in which we choose to act, not as Pharaoh, but as Jews.

A happy, healthy, and kosher holiday to all.

Passover 2011

Trying to post something, anything, meaningful when under the looming deadline not just of sunset (and the arrival of the holiday) but the need to get children and one’s self dressed in holiday best, not to mention hair brushed and faces washed, etc — well, this is not a recipe for a good post!

But I love Passover so much, I don’t want to leave it unremarked.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how all of these mitzvot, these commandments, serve to tell us to pay attention. The cleaning, the arranging of my kitchen with my one-week-a-year plates, pots, and flatware, the rush to complete tasks by certain hours of the day — these force me to pay attention, to notice what I’m doing, how I’m living. Who I am.

Of course, the mitzvot exist for their own sake. I don’t think for a minute that when the rule came down to rid our houses of hametz, leavening, the rabbis meant “you know, for the symbolism of it! Think about what it means!” No, I think they meant I had to get rid of the hametz. Like, for real. No matter what I might feel about it.

But this is one of the things I have always liked best about Judaism: No matter where one’s head or spirit might be at any particular moment, the mitzvot are always there. For some, the sheer physicality of the mitzvot — the doing of them, what we call the pshat, the unadorned version of things — is enough, or, some years, is all one can muster. For others, the spirit, the symbolism, the deeper meaning, is what really matters, or what resonates anew one year over others. We find our own way into the meanings, we bring ourselves, and our selves change every day, but the mitzvot are always there, solid and physical, as signposts: Pay attention. There’s something happening. This — this morsel of food, this way of counting hours, this way of looking at the new and the marvelous — means something.

And so, in spite of my pre-holiday exhaustion — the result of lots and lots of physical mitzvah-keeping for its own sake, for the sake of getting all the physical hametz out of my physical home — I’m trying to also be aware. To notice. To think about the hametz in my heart, the crumbs I would sweep from its corners, to remember the imperative to fight for the freedom of all people, because my people’s freedom from slavery means little unless and until all of God’s children are free — truly free, from want, from despair, from hunger, from the remaining horror of actual, 21st century slavery.

As always, I think of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, their freedom of movement even more curtailed than usual today, as Israel celebrates the Jewish holiday of freedom, because we Israelis and Palestinians are still slaves to our fears and our hatred and our blood, and for Israel, the mitzvah to remember that we were once strangers in a strange land — and to thus remember the dignity and humanity of all humans — does not yet apply to the Palestinians with whom Israel actually lives.

And all this as I break away to get those clothes on and wash those faces, and join old friends around a table marked by joy and love. Joy means something, too, and so does love.

Whoever you are, whatever you celebrate, and whenever you do it, I wish you a Happy Passover, a hag sameah, and all best wishes for moments of joy and love, today, tomorrow and always. May we achieve freedom from that which enslaves us, and perhaps more importantly, may we choose to actively seek that freedom, always.

Good stuff: Jewy McJewington edition.

Passover grows ever closer, and my time to prepare ever shorter.

The cleaning is always a monster that looms, weeks in advance, and I always hate it (really, really hate it), because it’s not just a lot of hard work, it’s also rife with anxiety and a constant see-saw of emotion (“I should be more thorough!” “I don’t think God really cares anyway!” “But God cares that I care!” “At this point I’m not sure I care!” “Of course I care — I should be more thorough!” Like that) — BUT, when all is said and done, I am always glad to have done it, and the week of Passover is invariably one of the sweetest of the year. I will never get over wishing I were in Israel among the Jews on our holidays — it’s just not the same when no one knows why you’re running out for more scouring powder or buying 12 boxes of matza (yes. 12. And six dozen eggs.) — but here in the gentle exile of American suburbia, my wee family and I have made a wonderful little corner for ourselves, and I do very much enjoy it.

HAVING SAID THAT. Of course I don’t have time for a real post! Are you barking mad? So instead, we’ll do this:

  1. Please scoot over to my new column at Americans for Peace Now – this week, in honor of Passover and my  people’s celebration of our freedom, I recommend a book that documents very thoroughly (speaking of things it’s good to be thorough about) just how painfully Israel constricts the freedom of another people, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
  2. ON A MUCH LIGHTER NOTE, please enjoy the following Jewy-McJewington-from-Jewsville parody of Cee-Lo’s towering piece of pop genius, “Fuck You.” If you’re not a Jewy McJewington (and even if you are!), you might not get all that’s going on here, but I think it’s a good bet that you’ll enjoy it anyway: “Barchu (I’m a Jew)” by the awesomely named Jew Man Group.

Back to my scouring powder! Shabbat shalom, my people, Jews and non-!

Judeo-Christian is wack.

Hard boiled eggs on the holiday - we were doing it before you!

From the outside looking in, one might be forgiven for thinking that Christians and Jews have gotten past all that once separated our communities. And, in some ways, one would be right.

But in other ways, one really wouldn’t.

Here it is Lent, with Passover days away — our shared holy season — and the fact remains: Two thousand years later, we Judeo-Christians still really aren’t sure we can trust each other.

And lest you think I’m just talking about paranoid talking heads of the Tea Party and/or Anti-Defamation League variety, I’m not. I mean us, you and me, rubbing shoulders daily. Apparently, we still make each other nervous.

Among some members of my community, the Jews, it’s almost an article of faith that if you scratch a Christian, you’ll find an anti-Semite (not, of course, the Christians you know, but the ones who might be in the press).

Likewise, many Christians approach Jews with an almost comically  exaggerated wariness (not the Jews they know, of course, but the public Jews, the ones who are always so suspicious).

Of course, the distrust itself is an act of hostility, and we can’t deny that both anti-Semitism and paranoia are alive and kicking. But perhaps the more significant truth is this: We are, in fact, very different.

Indeed, I would argue that the term “Judeo-Christian” does a kind of linguistic violence to both faiths.

Yet in modern-day America, many of us are taught to believe (or act as if we believe) that we’re all (in some Free-To-Be-You-and-Me kind of way) “the same.” And if you expect me to be “the same” as you, but I go on insisting on being me — who can blame you for getting a bit tetchy?

I’m here to suggest that rather than strive for sameness, it would be far more more useful to acknowledge our strangeness, learn to value it – and, dare I say, respectfully disagree on occasion.

How else will we ever learn anything? If we spend our time fighting about how to create some ill-advised single vision, we won’t be able to see each other’s coexisting truths – and we may very well miss entirely the wisdom we have to teach each other.

Some time ago, finding myself at Catholic-run hospital, I idly picked up a flier about the pre-Easter season. Intended for those observing Lent, it was a list of alternate understandings of the fast: “Fast from discontent,” it read, “feast on gratitude,” and so on.

This struck a cord for me.

At Passover, Jews are commanded to eat no hametz, or leavening, for a week — a fast from yeast, if you will. On a literal level, a strict cleaning regimen has developed, expunging everything from dinner rolls in the pantry to crumbs (real or suspected) between one’s bathroom tiles and on one’s shelves (and yes, I do — in fact, I just took a break from this year’s scrubbing extravaganza in order to put up this post).

But “leavening” has also taken on subtleties far beyond this.

We’re encouraged to cleanse ourselves of the heart’s hametz — bitterness, egotism, fear.  “The search for hametz and its removal,” we read in The Book of Our Heritage, “becomes a symbol of the struggle against the evil inclination,” and the prosaic act of preparing the home takes on mystical overtones: “The physical has been created,” writes Rabbi Chaim Levine “as a visceral mirror for abstract spiritual concepts.”

Thus, at points, my Lent list sounds familiar: “Fast from anger,” it reads, “feast on patience. Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation” — surely these ideas informed Jesus’ understanding of Passover, and the Seder meal that Christians know as the Last Supper.

“This is my body,” he said of the unleavened bread — and with stunning imagery, asked his followers to literally em-body the qualities the matzah symbolizes, the qualities his mission exemplified.

Yet it must be said that matzah also symbolizes a very particular, historical event for the Jewish people: The moment when the Israelites went from slavery into freedom.

Just as Christians wouldn’t invite me to take communion, as it is an act of Christian faith, we Jews are refering directly and only to ourselves when we say that “in every generation it is a person’s duty to regard themselves as though they went forth from Egypt.”

Our stories meet and separate, inform and exclude. Cultural Christians and Jews who don’t believe in a Divine Creator find their own meanings and lessons, and each of these also differ from each other. As they only can.

Jews and Christians will never be Judeo-Christian. We will always see any one event or symbol with our own eyes.

Perhaps, though, as humans, we can develop the faith that when certain experiences separate us, others will bring us back.

Things that are green, or: The fantasies of a nerdy Jew.

This could be a Seder table. You don’t know that it’s not. And maybe that’s a Haggadah! Who’s to say? A Haggadah with a particularly modern-looking Jew in it.

Things that are green:

1) The Iranian democracy movement.

2) Kermit The Frog.

3) Me — because my internet pal/Angry Blogging Overmistress (aka Angry Black Lady) met a Very Seriously Funny Person yesterday (spoiler alert: It was Aasif Mandvi…!), and I did not.

But the truth is that I’m already on record as not really being interested in meeting the famous people I admire — I’m not talking about “running into,” I guess, but rather events like, oh, I don’t know: radio contests and meet-and-greets. If I won some contest that intentionally placed me square in a room with Jon Stewart? I would be in an instant misery of squirmy doubt and certain inadequacy. (I mean honestly: What would we talk about — how awesome I find him? That might get boring for him in a tick or two).

Anyhoo, this brings me to the following inconsistency in My Philosophy, Marty (remember kids! I-am-perfectly-capable-of-contradicting-myself-I-have-a-bicameral-mind!): Though I don’t officially want to try to schmooze with the people I admire from afar, I do maintain a running list for my Fantasy Seder (like fantasy football, but for weird, non-athletic Jews).

First on the list, of course, is the afore-mentioned Jon Stewart (who, you may recall, I mentioned, afore, that I would be too nervous to meet). At the Seder, I imagine he would be cracking wise about growing up in New Jersey and feeling awkward around his own guests as he passed the gefilte fish; not sure how he would feel about reading the Haggadah, but I’m willing to take that chance.

Then the list gets a little more random. Peter Himmelman — semi-obscure rocker, Orthodox Jew, and son-in-law to Bob Dylan is totally invited. I hear he’s a fascinating conversationalist with all kinds of rad thoughts on philosophy and theology (my source for this? Terri Hemmert, DJ on Chicago’s own WXRT, and a woman lucky enough to have chatted with Peter on more than one occasion). Heck, I’d even have the event catered for him, as I rather doubt my kitchen is kosher enough. (Peter, call me!)

Adam Sandler – natch. He’s a mensch. It oozes from his pores, you can see it plain as day. I think he’d be helping me get the food on the table, and actively helping ease my nerves.

And oh, oh! Barney Frank! Totally! I would feel not nearly smart enough to actually talk to him directly, but I would love to her him talk with, say, Peter Himmelman. Or with Jack Black! Who is, of course, also invited. Can you imagine Barney Frank and Jack Black shooting the shit over the matzah ball soup? Dude. To be a fly on that wall!

The Gyllenhaal siblings are also a shoo-in, though I fear I would jibber and jabber — and possibly giggle — over Jake. Given that I presume my husband will also be attending, fingers crossed that I keep that in check. And Maggie — the presence of the man’s Too Cool For Me sister might also impose a certain respectability. One can only hope.

Currently, the list is woefully short of Famous Lady Jews. And we don’t even have a minyan yet, and somehow, it seems a Fantasy Seder should at least have a minyan. So I’ll have to work on that.

But my goodness, Passover is weeks away. I’ve got time. And then — then! — we’ll just see who’s green with envy!

Update: Ooh, ooh, what was I thinking! Freshly minted Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan! She’s an awesome Famous Lady Jew. But she can’t sit next to Rep. Frank. They’d start talking DC inside baseball, and we’d all be like, What up, Elena Kagan and Barney Frank? Talk with the rest of the class! I think I’d put her between Jack Black and Maggie Gyllenhaal.