Date: March 15, 2011 3:34 PM
Topic: Good To The Last Drop
You have to admit it’s kind of weird that most of us associate the brand “Maxwell House” coffee to our Passover Seders. After all, I was two years old, five years old, ten years old when I made this association – long before my addiction to coffee began. But you didn’t have to drink coffee to equate Passover and Maxwell House; all you had to do was attend a Seder. There, on most every Seder was that blue and white Haggadah with the advertisement of Maxwell House Coffee emblazoned on the front and back. And though it was a universal Haggadah I can assure you it was hardly good to the last drop.
The Maxwell House Haggadah English translation, “Thee, Thou, Thy” was ancient and hard to relate to. The pictures were basically bad 1980′s clip art and the lay out was no frills, to say the least. What you see is what you get. There’s no commentary, no side stories, no artwork, no children’s exercises – it just ain’t a lot of fun.
But that was the point. At a certain time, during a certain era, for a certain audience – particularly at my Zaydie’s house this made sense. There was a checklist of obligations to get through, and, dawgonit we were going to check them all off, and do so faster than you can say “mediocre coffee in a can.” And get through them we did. Every year we would burn through that Haggadah at breakneck speed. And every year we would look at each other with that universal look of desperation and hunger with the kids kvetching, “when can we eat?”
Why did we use Maxwell House? Because it was free. There was really nothing more to it than that. Why did we rush through the Haggadah? Because it was all we knew. It was what we thought we were supposed to do.
But the bottom line is we don’t have to use the Maxwell House Haggadah. Today there are so many interesting, engaging, inspiring options. It would be a shame to perpetuate this ritual object no matter how many of them you might have in your drawer. And today we know better than to rush through a rote Seder. If we do we’ll continue to watch our children and grandchildren not only kvetch at the table but ultimately continue to walk right out the front door – of Judaism.
This year why don’t you spice things up with some songs, some personal stories, and some relevant current events? Go on line and spend a little time and money and find a Haggadah that speaks to you. Or better yet, create your own. With the internet you can do so on the cheap and it can be meaningful and a lot of fun.
And this year, before the real Seder you can join us, at CSH, as we host the ADL interfaith Seder which will be both traditional and lively (click here for more details). You’ll get some good ideas for your Seder, support a worthy cause and do a real mitzvah as we invite our non-Jewish brothers and sisters to our Seder table and into our spiritual home.
And above all else, there’s still time to sign up for our second annual, second night Seder. If you want not only better coffee than Maxwell House but a better Haggadah, and most of all, a better Passover experience, then join us. This will be a rocking, wild, musical Seder led by me, Cantor Emil and our Ruach Rally/Hope Rising bands. It was an unbelievably inspiring experience last year and this year will prove to be more of the same as we sing, dance and yes read the night away (ok, two hours max) (click here for more details).
These are wonderful times to be a Jew and to be a part of this growing, vibrant congregation at CSH. Take advantage of all of these opportunities not just within our shul but bring them home, infuse them into your seder and make it a truly meaningful and festive meal. The days of Maxwell House only are over. Now there are choices, there is freedom, there is joy – and that, my friends, is good to the last drop.