by Arin Forstenzer
1. Have Fun
2. Keep it relevant but be creative
3. Engage your Audience
Just one week ago, for the first night of Passover, I attended a Seder for the second year in a row at the Greenberg family’s house in Dallas.
While I enjoy the time with family and friends, I have never had an easy time paying attention to any kind of presentation or service that lasts more than around twenty minutes. A Seder, if done in a traditional manner, can last over two hours. There are few people I know who can sit through two straight hours of anything these days.
But two years in a row, the Greenberg’s Seder has not only kept my attention the entire time but also stood out as a worthwhile and memorable holiday experience.
To get everyone involved each person reads about a paragraph at a time.
Both years, Dr. Greenberg started out the Seder with something unexpected and funny. This year, once we were all seated at the table, Dr. Greenberg began to play a YouTube.com video—hand puppets telling the story of Passover to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody. Last year, it was with the “2 Minute Seder” (a personal favorite of mine).
Throughout the Seder, the Greenberg’s not only served beautifully plated food—part of the service—but also added in additional, relevant side notes (one notable example was the reading of The Four Questions, as written by Dr. Seuss).
Dr. Greenberg’s father, Paul Greenberg took over (both years) about halfway through the Seder. Rather than read and/or sing about the ten plagues, he put on a small skit, assisted by the younger boys, complete with props to show us each plague. This year, Dr. Greenberg even got out a small spotlight to shine on them.
By keeping the Seder light hearted and filled with humor, every person at the table was not only attentive, but having fun as well. And the unexpected techniques used to provide a laugh have made the entire experience memorable, above and beyond the high quality (and delicious) food served.
You should try their Matzo ball soup! It’s among the best I’ve ever had, and I come from New York City – known for this stuff!