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Obama’s Guide to Passover. You’re Welcome. [California Seething]

This past week, Obama took his first ever trip to Israel and, in order to ensure that he never, ever, ever wants to come back, the King David Hotel in Jerusalem made him keep Kosher for Passover even though the holiday doesn’t officially start til today. This was partially because the preparations for Passover are so extensive that the hotel had to have them done before he and all of his staff arrived in order to ensure that the hotel would be ready by the first night of Passover and partially because Israelis are dicks. It’s actually just another example of the long tradition of Israeli presidential-hazing; like in 1974, when they made Richard Nixon fast for Yom Kippur even though he was visiting in June, and in 1992, when they sent George H.W. Bush a jar of expired gefilte fish and told him to save it for his big trip to Japan- and to eat it right before a formal banquet (Best moment in Bush family history. Hands fucking down. God, that’s a terrible family. Why can’t they be more like the Kennedys – you know, all liberal and dead and shit? Come on, Jeb- it’s not too late to learn to fly! I’m sure we can get someone to invite you to a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard during a particularly foggy weekend. #instrumentflyingiseasy #justdontkillyourwifenandhersister #dickmovejohnjohn.) And, of course, who could forget the best Israeli Presidential prank ever in 1993, when they signed the Oslo accords and acted like they cared about peace. Ha! Good one! Boy, you should have seen Clinton’s face when he found out they were kidding. He was deeply saddened and disappointed. And can you blame him? The Second Intifada was like an episode of Punk’d with Ariel Sharon as Ashton Kutcher. Of course, the RABIN CLINTON ARAFATIsraelis got a serious assist from the Palestinians for this “peace” prank- Yasser Arafat had a total case of the giggles and practically bit a hole through his lip trying to keep a straight face during the “handshake photo.” This little prank, in fact, marks the last time that the Israelis and Palestinians cooperated at all- unless you define “cooperation” as deliberately antagonizing each other to maintain a constant state of hostility and conflict – which is the correct definition if you’re Middle Eastern or North Korean or John Boehner. Hey- that gives me an idea- after his success in North Korea, maybe we should send Dennis Rodman to meet with Congressional Republicans. After all, he is our finest living American diplomat (except for Hillary Clinton, of course) or, well, maybe our finest living American diplomat who’s also had sex with Carmen Electra (except for Hilary Clinton, of course. Ahhh, the 90’s. Who wasn’t briefly gay?). Not that John Boehner is such a big basketball fan, but he does like tall, cross dressing black men or so he Tweeted on @JohnsBoner. By the way, I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blogumn thing for 2 and a half years and this is my first ever “Boehner/Boner” reference. Seriously- I’ve never been so ashamed of myself. My inner fourth-grader just committed Hari Kari- which means that my inner fourth grader is Japanese, but I’ll let my mother tell that story (Ahhh, the 70’s. Who wasn’t briefly a wife-swapper?)

Anyhow, President Obama is back from his successful trip to Israel and the Middle East, even though he fell for Netanyahu’s “apology phone call to Turkey” prank (You should have been there. Netanyahu’s cousin totally sounds like the Turkish Prime Minister on the phone. Hilarious.) But he may now be wondering what the hell was up with all the matzo and macaroons and agonizing constipation he was subjected to while he was there. So, President Obama, as a gesture of my appreciation for how generally awesome you are- and in order to distract you from the fact that your March Madness bracket completely fell to shit while you were prancing around Petra (seriously dude- you’re at the 30th percentile of brackets nation-wide. I mean, sure, that’s higher than Congress’s approval rating- but come on, if those were your SAT scores you wouldn’t have ended up at Harvard. Hell, you would have barely gotten into Kentucky, which also ranks in the 30th percentile in racial tolerance and number of teeth per student. Thank God for rednecks! They let us make racist-style jokes that aren’t actually racist because they’re about white people. And it’s not just me- basic cable thrives on it. Seriously- have you Cal Seething- March 25- Duckseen Duck Dynasty? Or Savage Family Diggers? It’s like Amos and Andy except white people play white people) here is my Goy’s Guide to Passover.  Goy, as you may recall, is a Yiddish word for “the putz who brings bagels to a Seder then wonders why his girlfriend’s parents won’t talk to him” – and if you’re not sure what’s wrong with bringing bagels to a Seder- then you definitely need to read this post if you plan to interact with Jews during Passover.  Because, if there’s one thing Jews don’t cope well with (yeah, right, like there’s only one thing) it’s well intentioned but misguided gestures of good will. Seriously- we freak the fuck out. You say “Merry Christmas”  – we hear “Heil Hitler”. Maybe it’s the centuries of persecution and cultural marginalization. Maybe we’re just a big bag of dicks. Either way we just can’t be cool and polite about stuff like that. Whatever, God didn’t choose us for our manners (or our athletic ability. Or our good hair. Honestly, not really clear on why he chose us. I guess he chooses his people the way I choose my Primary Care Physician- just going through the list, looking for the Jewish sounding names.) So read this Guide and don’t fuck it up. Putz.

The Four Questions: No Bread? No Corn? No Beer? Are You Shitting Me????

The Four Answers: Yes, Yup, You Got it. And no, I’m not shitting you. Starting tonight, I won’t be shitting at all.

The best way to think about keeping Kosher for Passover is to imagine that God told you to go Gluten Free for a week. Which, I know sounds like it totally sucks, but there are some distinct upsides. Just imagine how smug and self-righteous you’ll be able to be when you order at restaurants! ‘Cause if there’s anyone more smug and self-righteous than a person with trendy, self-imposed, medically questionable dietary needs- it’s a person with self-imposed, medically questionable dietary needs that are ORDAINED BY GOD. Just think of how shitty and inadequate you can make your waitress feel:

Waitress: …and the soup of the day is Cream of Mushroom.

You: Uhm, yeah- is there any flour in that? (IMPORTANT NOTE: Say the word “flour” as though you are saying “diseased possum”)

Waitress: I don’t think so. I can check with the chef.

You: Yeah, could you please? Cause, I’m keeping Kosher for Passover. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Say the words “I’m keeping Kosher for Passover” as though you are saying “keeping Kosher for Passover, you unwashed heathen swine.”)

Waitress: OK. I will. We also have a Southwestern Fire Roasted Corn salad today that’s one of my favorites.

You: Uhm, yeah. Can I get that without the corn? (Important note- say the word “corn” as though you are saying “diseased possum droppings”)

Waitress: I don’t know. I can check with the chef.

You: Yeah, could you please? Cause, you know, I’m keeping Kosher for Passover.

Waitress: OK. Well, can I get you started with a drink? We have some terrific craft beers.

You: Uhm, yeah. That sounds just great. Except that I can’t have beer, cause, I’m keeping Kosher for Passover.

Waitress:  Oh.

You: Do you even know what that means?

Waitress: That you’re a complete asshole? (No, wait, this is what she says on the inside)

Waitress (what she actually says): No.

You: It means that I can’t have any kind of leavened bread products or corn because God freed my ancestors from slavery.

Waitress: Oh. OK. Lincoln freed mine, asshole so I can eat whatever I want.(No, wait, this is what she says on the inside again. Oh, so you just assumed my Hypothetical Waitress was white? Now who’s being racist?)

Waitress (what she actually says): OK. So- what does that have to do with eating bread?

That’s an excellent question Hypothetical Black Waitress, and that brings me to the next part of my Guide:

So, Yeah, WTF? What Does Being Freed From Slavery Have to Do with Not Eating Bread, Huh?

OK, so the real reason we celebrate Passover is not to be douchebags in restaurants, but to remember our ancestral journey from Slavery to Freedom. And every year, we gather on the first two nights of Passover to have a ritual dinner (or “Seder”) and tell the story of our liberation from Egypt. And, every year, we completely fail to tell this story and we just ramble incoherently for hours going through weird rituals til it feels like we’ve waited long enough to eat. Seriously, listen to the Seder sometime- it’s like listening to an alcoholic telling a joke at a bar:

Cal Seething- March 25- Drunk“So, yeah, this is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt, and THIS year we are slaves, but NEXT year we’re gonna be free people cause on all OTHER nights we don’t even dip our vegetables once and on THIS night we dip our vegetables twice. And, wait, wait, I got this one.  See we used to be slaves in Egypt and now we gotta talk about it all days of our lives so there were these five Rabbis who walked into a bar in B’nai Berak to tell the story and they stayed up allll night talkin’ about it, cause the DAYS of your life, well, that just means the DAYS but ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE, well, that includes the NIGHTS and the WEEKENDS and the DAYS AFTER THE MESSIAH COMES is what Rabbi Ben Zoma says, anyhow and he’s like a man of 70 years old so he fuckin’ knows some shit. And, if you’ve got a wise child, like I never had, you gotta tell him that you eat dessert after the Passover lamb. But, f you’ve got a Wicked child like that ungrateful daughter of mine who only ever listens to what that crazy drunk bitch of a mother tells her then you gotta say that God freed ME from the Land of Egypt. ME, ME, ME not YOU, you fucking whore. Oh God, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. My father was a wandering Aramean. He was never there for me. Oh daddy, if only you had just parted the Red Sea it would have been enough. ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENGOUGH E-NOUGH-NOUGH-NOUGH-NOUGH! Hey- could you get me a sandwich? Rabbi Hillel used to make a sandwich.  It was so good. It had bitter herbs and apples and it used to just cost 2 zuzim which was the same price that my daddy paid for a lamb. One little kid.  I was just one little kid. Then there was this cat, and this dog, and a stick that caught fire and got put out with a bucket of water that an ox drank and a butcher and the Angel of Death and then God did some stuff. Oh God. I don’t feel so good. That fourth cup of wine is kicking my ass. I gotta recline. On this night, you see, we recline.”

OK, so maybe that’s not exactly right- maybe it’s more like reading a bedtime story that was written by a team of lawyers:

“The Lord took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm and with a great manifestation and with signs and wonders

“Whereas, the party of the first part, heretofore known as ‘the Lord’ shall take the party of the second part, heretofore known as ‘us’ himself and not via the use of seraphs, angels, cherubs or any such subsidiaries, derivatives or messengers known now or in the future throughout the universe in perpetuity.”

“Whereas, ‘strong hand’ shall refer to ‘Pestilence’ as it is said “behold the HAND of the Lord will be upon the livestock in the field, upon the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks a very severe pestilence”

“Whereas, ‘outstretched arm’ shall refer to the sword, as it is said, ‘His SWORD was drawn, in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem.”

Cal Seething- March 25- lawyers‘Whereas, ‘and with great manifestation’ shall refer to the revelation of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), as it is said: “Has any G-d ever tried to take for himself a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, signs and wonders, with war and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with GREAT MANIFESTATIONS, like all that the Lord your God, did for you in Egypt before your eyes!”

Seriously- do you even remember what the fuck they were talking about? And I haven’t even gotten into the whole “Plague” thing- were there 10 plagues? Or 50 Plagues? Or 250 Plagues? Can the Rabbis just agree on one fucking thing and get on with telling the story? Cause I still don’t know what ANY of this has to do with not eating corn for a week and why the fuck am I dipping my celery twice???? Why is this night different from all other nights? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS????? I don’t even know how many goddamn plagues there were.

The problem is that Jews are very logical people- but “being Jewish” involves doing a bunch of totally illogical stuff- so we endlessly debate the minutia of our practices in the hopes of reconciling that side of our brain that needs to understand with the side of our brain that wants to believe.

So…Do You Believe in Any of This Stuff?

Uhm, no, not really.

Then Why Do You Keep Kosher for Passover, Eric?

Huh. Wow. This Guide got awfully personal all of a sudden.

Cause I’ve always done it?

Cause it makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger and older than myself?

Cause I get a weird subversive i thrill from taking the buns of my Baconator and replacing with Matzoh?

Cause by participating in the ritual, I give myself the opportunity to seek meaning in it- and the act of seeking meaning is worthwhile in and of itself, regardless of whether I am able to articulate or even understand the results.

Cause….I don’t know…why do you keep asking me? Do I look like I make good decisions? Have you seen my bracket? I had Gonzaga going to the Final Four. I had New Mexico going to the Elite 8. I had Georgetown winning more than just ZERO FUCKING GAMES!!! (Seriously, Georgetown- fuck you and the new Pope you rode in on.) I can’t be expected to understand deep theological questions. I can barely understand why I picked Bellmont to beat Arizona. #stillbeatingthepresidenthough

So – OK. There you have it. That’s everything you need to know about Passover. We don’t eat bread cause we used to be slaves and God freed us personally with his hand and his arm and some totally indeterminate number of plagues and if you’re a Wise Child, you get to eat dessert after the Pascal lamb but if you’re a Wicked Child then go fuck yourself. God would have left you in Egypt. Now, shut up. recline and dip your celery. Twice. Don’t fuck it up. Putz.

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