Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

The 30 Minute Seder?

posted by Donna Freitas

Passover is coming up, and this year as you ponder celebrating the Seder meal, perhaps you should consider making it a quick one and use the “30 Minute-Seder: The Haggadah that Blends Brevity with Tradition.”

I was flipping through the New York Times Magazine on the train yesterday afternoon when I came upon an advertisement selling this little 30 Minute-Seder book and laughed out loud. The copy reads:

“This Rabbinically approved Haggadah is refreshingly brief, yet maintains the high points of the traditional Seder. Well-written and beautifully illustrated. . . . 30 Minute-Seder is perfect for the entire family and makes Passover a joy to celebrate!”

Very amusing. I suppose the implication is that if your Seder takes more than 30 minutes to celebrate, then it will be rather less than joyful. Hmmm.

And never fear: if you are super, super busy and you leave your Haggadah text to the last minute, you can “download it now!” according to the 30-Minute Seder’s website. It will show up formatted and ready to print from your computer, to pass out to all your guests. Nothing like revising our significant religious rituals to reflect the fact that today we are so over-scheduled we don’t even have time for one long meal once a year! We can squeeze in Passover just like we squeeze in the schlep to soccer practice and the quick trip to the grocery store to buy milk.

Is it just me, or do you too feel a little depressed when you read about this sort of thing?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Naomi

    For Lent our parish priest invited any high school student that was interested out to breakfast at McDonald’s after the 6:30 service. He assumed that most teens wouldn’t be occupied from 6:30 until 8in the morning. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Not a single teen took him up on the offer. Not only were they too busy, but they were so busy their parents were the ones who told the priest they couldn’t attend. They just didn’t have time. It’s a sad commentary on our lifestyle

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Stella

    I feel more than ” a little depressed”…
    It is just ostrageous that we are too busy to enjoy the best of life…and Passover is a beautiful Feast, a time of sharing, learning, keeping “rooted”. It was the Passover that Jesus Christ was celebrating in his last supper. If his meal was resumed in 30 minutes today we don’t have His “Memorial” celebrated in each Holy Mass… I am Catholic and love reading and learning from the Sacred Scriptures.
    Naomi gave us a good example how far “our lifestyle” is leading us from what is essential.
    No wonder why our youth didn’t see “meaning” in what they are doing.
    Please enjoy and live fully your Passover, have a great meal and all you deserve with family and friends…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kbo

    I will probably be clobbered for this, but here goes….
    We used the 30 minute Seder for Pesach last year and it was great! It was a very enjoyable Seder for everyone who attended. When I was growing up back in the 60′s and 70′s, the Seders were beautiful…but painfully long. There is even a joke of “My Seder was longer than your Seder.” I plan on using the 30 minute Haggadah again this year. We had guests that had never attended a Seder because they were intimidated, but felt completely at ease during our Seder. Our family did not feel ‘slighted’ with the 30 minute version at all. We actually felt that we bonded more because everyone was fully engaged in the Seder and not distracted by the thoughts of “How much longer is this going to go on?” Our lovely discussionS continued all during the meal too. I guess I will end by saying that everyone has to find what works best for them and their lives. Telling the story of Pesach and sharing a meal with family and friends is the most important element of the holiday, no matter what form it takes.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dee

    I love the Passover celebration, and thoroughly enjoy the entire experience and do NOT want to rush through it. We usually get together with other families to do first night of Passover, and invite families that may not know how to celebrate Passover, new to Judaism, etc. so that they can and learn as well as enjoy the family exerience with us. We engage the children and teens, asking them to do the readings, etc. as well as their helping prepare some of the meal and serve it. That helps with their attitude about things being “boring”. I personally feel that if you get them involved, they will have more of an ownership of the celebration, on not view it as being a “pain”. A shorter version might be nice when we are doing it alone with no children, family or friends, just for us. However, at the price that they are asking, I can do the same thing by myself with the full on-line Haggada, break it up into smaller sections, save money and still print it out on the computer.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lucy

    Kbo, I am on your side. I work six days a week and sometimes take on extra jobs. My work is physically demanding and in order to stay fit for it (I am a woman in my forties) I HAVE to do regular work-outs as well. I also do most of the work at home. If a Seder is on a Monday night, I still have to get up at six on Tuesday morning, and Tuesday is when most of my heavy loads come in. I do not have much help at work…I cannot afford it.
    I dread Passover. My husband likes to do EVERYTHING on all holidays…the longer the better…and does not seem to understand that I am exhausted. I have refused to go to friends’ Seders that last until midnight and beyond. I do not mind preparing a nice meal but I want things done so that I can go to bed and have at least a fighting chance of functioning the next day. As it is, I am always tired. If you are already tired, believe me, those long Seders are torture.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sandra Moskowitz

    We have 4 children under the age of 6 at our seder this year. To keep them engaged, I might consider using the 30 minute seder.

  • Gavriella

    In the 1950s, my grandparents had a huge living room into which were squeezed some 50+ people – 3 generations of family and friends! For us it was a joyous occasion for everyone to get together, eat, sing, and remember. There are too few of us left now, and those who remain are scattered. But last night my cousin called and we remembered how, when she was 7, she insisted on reading a part – and she read it superbly, until she came to the word Pharaoh. She stared at it for a minute, and then announced with satisfaction, PASQUALE!

    Sadly, my children have grown away from Judaism, claiming religion is outmoded. But they will miss out on the wonderful memories generated by beloved family.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment David


    The 30-minute Seder might work for you, but there are lots of ways to keep the children engaged if you work at it. I usually make a coloring/games booklet for the children (if you’re considering the 30-minute version, I assume you are not Orthodox and don’t object to kids writing and drawing). I make sure to include kid-friendly songs throughout (Bang Bang Bang, O Listen, etc.). I have done charades and Jeopardy as the storytelling. I have used 10 plague masks. I have asked the kids to come up with their own questions in advance and had the adults ask and try to answer them either during the four questions or throughout the seder. It’s all about being creative and having the kids in mind when you prepare the seder. I’m not saying they’ll be 100% engaged for an hour or more, but trying to keep it to 30 minutes is only one of many options.

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