Montpelier, VT – Last night, Congregation Beth Messiah of Montpelier, Vermont, held its biggest event of the year: their congregational Passover Seder. After months of hype, announcements in every service and over a thousand mailers sent throughout the city, the event was sold out, and every seat was filled. However, as Rabbi Jacob Felberbaum and his elders proceeded through the Seder, they began to notice something peculiar.
“I looked out into the crowd, and there were absolutely no familiar faces,” said Assistant Rabbi Mark Weissman. “Then I wandered a bit during the meal, and when not a single Bubbe grabbed me to talk my ear off about her thoughts on the morning’s service I knew something was wrong. So after the Seder, I went back and checked through the ticket sales records, and it was just as I’d suspected – not a single member had bought a ticket.”
“It’s a bit of a shock,” said Rabbi Felberbaum upon hearing the news. “Sure, we’ve had somewhat low turnout among members for the past decade or so, with most of the seats these days going to church groups and Hebrew Roots folks looking for a taste of the ‘Jewish experience.’ Still, we’ve always had at least a few members – newer folks in particular, plus a few old stalwarts bringing out friends or relatives. I’m not sure what changed this year.”
Rank and file members of the congregation, however, were significantly less surprised by the revelation. “I don’t know why anyone in the synagogue would go to that thing,” said Becca Meltzer. “It’s $35 a pop, catered by goyim who couldn’t make a decent matzah ball soup if their life depended on it, and it’s on a random night that has no significance, whatsoever. Besides, I was already invited to two other home Seders this week, and my attention span can only sit through so much; why would I pick the one that costs money?”
“I attended the Seder once when I first joined, but I’ll never make that mistake again,” said Josh Wingert, echoing Becca’s sentiments. “They take even longer to get to the meal than my parents, and my Dad spends like an hour on the Passover story alone. But the last straw for me was the charoset, which until that night had always been the highlight of the Seder for me. I don’t know what they were thinking; the stuff is supposed to remind you of mortar, but what they put in front of me looked more like dry trail mix.”
A further survey of members also revealed that, even if they’d been interested in attending the Congregational Seder, most had already committed to one of the five other Seders held that night by Beth Messiah members. The largest of these was held by the Rabbi’s own mother, who hosted just over two dozen people in her spacious dining room.
“Of course I went to Mama Sarah’s Seder,” said Sam Finkel. “I wouldn’t have gone to the Synagogue one anyway, but anyone who’d even consider turning down an invitation to her Seder has either never eaten her cooking, or he’s gone completely meshuggah.”
At press time, Rabbi Felberbaum had not responded to The Meow’s inquiries as to whether he’d been invited to his mother’s Seder.
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