Mae Bachman to a Passover seder guest, April 2002

And do you mind calling the Cushmans to ask them to bring over some folding chairs? Six should do it. Thanks, only if it's no trouble.

Hi Linda,

Thanks for asking what you can bring to the Pesach seder tonight. You really don’t need to bring anything but yourself, but another bottle of kosher for Passover wine never hurt. White, please. I think we’re set on red.

If you’re at the wine store anyway, you might stop next door at the Acme and grab a box of matzah. No problem if you don’t have a chance, but if you’re there, I’m starting to think we may need another box or two. Why not just grab some potatoes while you’re there, one of those five pound bags should do it. If you see one of those big prewashed lettuce bags, pick up one of those and maybe a dozen carrots, some cucumbers, you know, salad stuff. Don’t worry about it if it’s too much trouble. A red pepper would be good, and some lemons.

Actually, can you grab some horseradish, parsley, apples, nuts, cinnamon, eggs, roasted shank bone (if they have them)? That would be a big help. If you can’t, just let me know, and I’ll get it myself. I have to get a couple of those Manischewitz cake mixes–you don’t think you could get those too, do you? That would make my day a lot easier. It’s not a big deal one way or another, but if you’re in that neighborhood, maybe you could stop at the butcher and pick up a brisket and a couple of whole chickens? Better if you can get the brisket this morning since it’ll need the day to cook, and since you work from home, you don’t mind keeping an eye on it, do you? I’ll send over my recipe.

David will come by with the car around five to pick up everything from your place. Can’t wait to see you!



p.s. Some flowers would be nice. Whatever you like.


Passover, or “Jewish Easter,” comes with a number of traditions and rituals which non-Jews might find a bit eccentric. In fact, during the early part of the 1900s, most Americans believed Matzah was made with roasted pork cracklins’ and broccoli. In 1960, then-Governor Nixon wished “a very happy Say-der Day” to “all my Judaist friends,” which caused some consternation among Republican operatives looking to win the anti-Semitic vote, or as it was called then, “everyone else.” President Obama has held a Seder at the White House every year since he was elected, proving to his opponents that he is indeed a Muslim, or “whatever, they’re basically the same thing” (Rep. Steve King, R-IA).

One tradition that has lived on since the oldest times is preparing far too much food. Mae Bachman, when writing the letter above, had actually already prepared an entire dinner. However, her niece decided to bring “that gentile” (her fiance, a Reform Jew), bringing the number of guests from 13 to 14 and necessitating the creation of entire second meal. After dinner, the Bachmans threw out nearly 400 pounds of brisket, a record that stands today. After the 8th bottle of wine was emptied, they also engaged in the traditional post-dinner argument about politics. This is a Jewish tradition that dates back to biblical times, when Moses’ uncle loudly and obnoxiously said the Pharaoh  “may have his problems, but the fellow has it right on taxes.”


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