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Funniest Nights

From setting crumbs on fire to the awkwardness of eating a matzoh-and-salami sandwich, an illustrator recounts her family’s weird and wonderful Passover traditions

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Vanessa Davis, page 1

Vanessa Davis, page 2

Vanessa Davis, page 3

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We assign persona and animals in Had Gad Yah to people at the Seder. They are responsible to make a sound effect for each time their persona is sung. It gets hilarious by half way, and people laughing cross-eyed to the bath room by the time we reach the Malech Hamovith [Angel of Death]

Karen Davis says:

What a lovely rememberance of seders past! But what about future Seders?

Elias Lieberman says:

A lovely and thought-provoking meditation on the seder experience. I feel compelled, though, to set the record straight with respect to the orange on the seder plate:


Orange on the Seder Plate

In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like chametz violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out – a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia of Judaism. While lecturing, Heschel often mentioned her custom as one of many feminist rituals that have been developed in the last twenty years. She writes, “Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal maneuver occurred: my idea of an orange and my intention of affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the story circulates that a MAN said to me that a woman belongs on the bimah as an orange on the seder plate. A woman’s words are attributed to a man, and the affirmation of lesbians and gay men is erased. Isn’t that precisely what’s happened over the centuries to women’s ideas?”

Wishing all a liberating Pesach!

Webbiest says:

I don’t get it. Why stop going to/having seders? People don’t stop celebrating Xmas just because they leave home or move in with somebody. You don’t even have to organize your own.

Dear “Karen Davis” and Webbiest, it’s not been on purpose that I haven’t gone to a real seder in a long time. But I am happily attending one tonight!
And Elias Lieberman, in researching this comic I learned this too about the orange-on-the-seder-plate! I love the idea of spitting out bad ideas and embracing new ones. For this story, however, I wanted to “stick to the facts” about how things went down. Thank you for reading!

Dani says:

In my family we are not doing getting-rid of bread in the house, because it’s economically tough for us to throw food away, but we will do seder.


Your wonderful memories made me laugh (many times) the feather, the tape on the refrigerator, the matzoh and salami sandwich!!!!and thanks for the explanation of the orange. I shall include it .

I recently moved to a new city and this will be the first year I will not be a part of big seder. My parents offered to set me up with many nice seders, but my innate awkwardness and laziness won out over celebrating my favorite holiday. Your comic has been the perfect antidote to my wonderfully crushing Jewish guilt. And I will be packing a matzoh and salami sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

Cousin Michael says:

You are the best cartoonist/humorist IN THE WORLD!!!I love your work. Next year, at a seder in Suffern, NY (at my house!)

Cousin Michael says:

… or if you come here some time that’s not Pesach, I could just bring you here for dinner. Maybe you’d like to join me some first Friday of a month at the Beacon Sloop Club … (I’m dreaming … you’re not really coming to NY, are you ….or are you?)

You had ghosts too?

Neal – the tradition of symbolically opening the door to anyone who needs a meal and to Elijah…those are perhaps the ghosts to whom she refers? Elias, thank you for the clarification! We have had the orange on the seder plate since a friend of my mom’s introduced it years ago…but we (without my late mom or her still living friend to remind us) couldn’t remember what the orange was supposed to represent! So thanks again – I will be attributing this correctly in future years.

david says:

Those finger puppets of the plagues have appeared at our seders lately. Doesn’t anyone else find it strange to see see the kids playing with “slaying of the first born finger puppet”

Susan Heisler says:

The Seder reminds us that the Creator of the World took us, out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom. We remember how HaShem performed miracles for us with gratitude to the Ribbono shel Olam. It certainly doesn’t remind us that anything can happen.
This cartoon, in fact this entire magazine is what Jews who love Judaism, call, “a Shandah!” The terrible tragedy is that you don’t even know that it is a terrible tragedy!

Life is short, and this atricle saved valuable time on this Earth.


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Funniest Nights

From setting crumbs on fire to the awkwardness of eating a matzoh-and-salami sandwich, an illustrator recounts her family’s weird and wonderful Passover traditions