We had a Seder at church last night, an event that has become an annual favorite for many in the parish. This year, however, it was late in the game before I became aware that the person who had been putting the event together and organizing and delegating tasks was no longer in residence. Questions began to be raised in earnest a week ago, and got directed to the chair of our hospitality team. I stepped in front of her to take the shot.
"No, Y is not in charge of the Seder. She has other responsibilities and it would be unfair to overload her with this one as well." Fortunately I didn't have to twist any arms to assign a new chairperson. After K said that she would call D (chair of yore), and pursue some other queries, she voiced, "well, I guess I'm in charge."
Everything got done, although there was some last minute scrambling to address one critical thing: wine (no, liquor stores are not open on Sunday). And though it was a pleasant evening and we all learned or were reminded of symbols and stories related to our Judeo-Christian heritage, there are a few details that would improve the experience. I have begun a list so that when next year rolls around we will have things in place in good time, and in good order.
--Designate one person to be in charge
-- Without being the person in charge, know the answers to all the questions (you’re going to be asked)
--A great idea: someone suggested getting a bin (with a lid) into which all the appropriate Seder materials would go: Seder plate, Elijah cup, booklets, yarmulkes (it’s time we got our own and didn’t rely on Herb to provide them—there will come a time when he will no longer be doing this). Tape a list to the underside of the lid that lists the contents, as well as the storage location of other, larger items (like tablecloths).
--Draw a diagram of the table arrangements.
--Know how many tables and chairs we have and how many we can seat in the undercroft. At some point we will max out.
--Make a note to coordinate a set-up and clean-up team
--Keep a menu handy, with recipes if necessary
--Arrange for childcare, and talk about ways to incorporate kids (as I recall, this meal is very much about kids!)
--Consider a separate children’s menu, if necessary
--Streamline the program so there is less redundancy and more participation
--Consider brisket as an alternative to lamb
--Consider alternatives to all the dishes except those with symbolic significance
--Add matzoth ball soup
--Take reservations so we know how many people to expect
--Use table arrangements that encourage conversation
--Use hospitable tableware (not styrofoam plates and plastic utensils)
--Place at each table: decanters of wine and grape juice, finger bowls and a towel
--Acquire wine glasses (think Old Time Pottery)
--Set table with pitchers of water and water glasses
--Don’t leave the wine to the last minute
--Consider having music
--Is there anything we can do to improve the lighting?
--Put all information into a booklet to serve as a resource
I hope that covers it. I'll be listening to hear what others have to say.