Last night, I went to a Passover seder at a home I've been going to for years. It's always very enjoyable, except for one particular thing: about five years ago, the host switched from a very simple haggadah – which is the book used for the service (and unless you're with an especially serious group, people tend to prefer simple, and the simpler and more lively and fun, the better ) – to something called The New American Haggadah. In a word, it is interminable (though happily we don’t read through most of it) and in a few additional words, it's pontificatingly awful and pompous, about 100 pages long -- a preferred haggadah is about 30 -- edited by a fellow named Jonathan Safran Foer. It might be something interesting to read is you were on a desert island and feeling devout. But as a haggadah for people who want to celebrate and get through the wine, matzoh, gefilte fish, camaraderie and meal, it’s dismal, and I don’t think anyone there likes it. Even the host has started to grow weary of it. But he's determined and sticks with it, editing the service more and more each year. As is only right and proper.
But his self-awareness was especially noticeable when he himself brought up that only a few days ago, he had seen that The Onion did a satire piece about…Jonathan Safran Foer!!! Yes, the editor of the haggadah. The headline of the article alone is funny enough and I could have stopped right there, “Jonathan Safran Foer Guesses It’s Time to Give Up on Silly Dream of Becoming a Good Writer.” Hilarious. I have no idea what brought this about -- Foer has actually had a successful career, including the novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which was made into a movie I quite enjoyed. Perhaps The Onion writer has been through one too many seders with The New American Haggadah, or if that was just a happy coincidence and a genial jibe in general. But it did my heart good. The article is very short – one paragraph, but quite funny. If you’re interested, here’s the link.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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