Depending on your tradition, seder nights can either be a hurry up and eat occasion or a long drawn out into the wee early morning hours event.
I’ll admit Passover is my favorite holiday on the calendar, for me it’s a perfect blend of spirituality and coming together for a family meal. It’s Thanksgiving on steroids. But admittedly that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
So how about 10 minutes? Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, senior rabbi at L.A.’s Pico Shul, says his haggadah is the shortest version that’s kosher and its origin story may surprise you.
“I spent some time going through all the laws of the Passover seder and realized I could construct an experience that would meet the minimum requirements for Passover as desired by the sages,” Rabbi Bookstein told me.
The 10 minute seder’s origin story is built on brevity. The seder got its start with the group Shabbat Tent, an organization that goes to music festivals all over the country to welcome people who are attending during Shabbat.
“We realized people would participate in a seder during a music festival so I thought what can we do to solve this issue and not have people miss out on Passover,” Bookstein said.
With a little help from Jewish rapper Kosher Dillz, he was the first volunteer to lead a seder, the seder was a big hit. But this haggadah isn’t just for lovers of Coachella.
“I realized that it’s just not festival participants who want to do Passover but maybe don’t have patience,” explained Bookstein. “I also found a lot of people wanted to do a seder but there was not a real consensus amongst the more casually observant people what constituted a seder– what they had to do and not to do.”
So just how kosher is the 10 minute seder?
“What is absolutely necessary to do is considerably less than a modern haggadah,” Bookstein explained. “Things have been added over the years that have wonderful meanings, they are beautiful, but they do not constitute the minimum obligations as the sages distilled.”
At the core of Bookstein’s philosophy is participation and obligation.
“I think it’s really important for people to learn what is required of us by our traditions and what are sages would require as the minimal obligation because so often people just don’t know what is the real essence, what is the mitzvah, what is the opportunity to connect with,” Bookstein said.
“We find this time and again when it comes to Jewish life and ritual and reacquainting people with the essentials of Judaism– it allows them to be empowered to incorporate things in their lives and knowing they are fulfilling and participating in a way that is genuine and authentic.”
With that said, how long are Rabbi Bookstein’s seders?
“My seder goes about 4 and half hours… I try to finish my seders by 1 a.m. 1:30.”
Originally Published Mar 25 2021 10:38PM EDT