If you weren’t obliged to have family and friends filling chairs around your table, who would you invite for Passover?
With the entire Jewish world and beyond to choose from, which people – past, present or fictional – would you want to break matzah with?
We asked 10 faces to pick eight guests to invite to a fantasy seder … Compiled by Fiona Leckerman
Host: Steven Berkoff, playwright and actor
Bernard Malamud – For writing such moving stories about the Jewish spirit and his pride in his race.
Franz Kafka – For his delightful imagination, his painful sensitivity and his depths of soul.
George Gershwin – For filling the world’s ears with the sublime sound of Jewish music with New York overtones. Sweet, jazzy, melodic, daring, heimish.
Isaac Bashevis Singer – For his wonderful exuberance, his passion and his mysticism.
Joe Papp – A quite wonderful Jewish actor, singer and, above all, the man who bought great theatre to New York. Created one of the most exciting theatre spaces in America: the New York Public Theater.
Marcel Marceau – For creating mime dreams on stage and for showing the miraculous possibilities of the human body. Just watching his brought joy to your life.
Norman Mailer – For being a word juggler, an acrobat of language, daring, visceral, an American version of the new Jew as a slayer of demons, mostly his own.
André Schwarz-Bart – French writer who wrote The Last Of The Just, one of the most sublime books on Jewish history in a fictional setting; it is both terrifying and deeply moving.
Host: Ivor Baddiel, comedy writer and author
Sigmund Freud – I didn’t want to use up three guest choices by inviting Freud, Einstein and Marx, so went for Freud as I have a degree in psychology and thus have a greater connection with him.
Joan Rivers – A fearless and brilliant comedian, you know she’s going to be entertaining.
Judas – He rarely gets a look-in as I expect most people would invite Jesus over him, and he gets a pretty bad press, so thought he deserved an invite. I’m sure he’d also have plenty to say for himself.
Elijah – Just to see if he’d actually turn up for once.
Geddy Lee – He’s the lead singer and bassist of my favourite band, Rush.
Baruch Spinoza – I don’t know a vast amount about his philosophy, but what I do know, I like, and he’s bound to be an interesting conversationalist.
Sarah Fabian-Baddiel – My mother, who died at the end of last year; she loved Seder night.
Ron Jeremy – Erm, look him up. Actually, don’t.
Host: Mayim Bialik, star of the Big Bang Theory
Sam Harris – We went to neuroscience grad school at UCLA together and he is my favorite atheist Jew ever. I don’t always agree with him, but he is brilliant and reasonable and thoughtful.
Billy Eichner – We met at the White House of all places, and before that I only knew that he does these crazy interviews and one featured him and Lindsay Lohan talking about me. I find him to be a fearless and hysterical comedian and he’s warm and heimish.
Sarah Silverman – Irreverent, perhaps. But so revolutionary. I would be fine if she came in jeans and a T-shirt and sneakers even.
Bill Prady – Our creator and executive producer on The Big Bang Theory. This man knows everything about everything and he is absolutely charming.
Eric Kaplan – Co-exec producer of The Big Bang Theory and author of Does Santa Exist? This is the guy who will catapult the seder into a philosophical and mystical journey.
Benjamin Netanyahu – Just so I can find out what’s going on in his head.
Lenny Kravitz – I need to have the experience of singing Chad Gadya with this man.
Jon Stewart – Such an influential voice for our times. Also probably sings a mean Chad Gadya.
Host: Baroness Ruth Deech, QC
Josef Fraenkel – My dear late father who, without missing out a word of the Haggadah, would race us through so we could get to dinner quickly!
Moses – For a retrospective on events
Theodor Herzl – To give meaning to “Next year in Jerusalem”
Topol – To sing the songs.
Florence Greenberg – To do the cooking.
Maureen Lipman – To keep us entertained and to persuade her not to emigrate.
Sarah Deech – My daughter, back at age seven, to ask Ma Nishtana.
Golda Meir – For advice on peacemaking over the washing-up.
Host: Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP
“Pesach means bubbelech to me, ie the (stacks of) pancakes my mother used to make for me sprinkled with sugar, so I would invite my mother and father along.”
Golda Meir – Legendary former Israeli prime minister
Max Stone – founder of J&M Stone, a radio and electrical retailer sold to Firth Cleveland. My father ran it before and afterwards.
Sir Jules Thorn – businessman and philanthropist
Lord Weinstock – businessman and philanthropist
Phil Reiss – a US lawyer and advertising matchmaker I spoke to every day.
Bill Bernbach – American advertising creative director and one of the founders, in 1949, of the international advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach.
Host: David Schneider, comedian
Sigmund Freud – What a brain! What courage to say some of the things he said, even the wrong ones.
Woody Allen – His films have been a source of so much pleasure, especially, as he’d say, “the earlier funny ones”. And he’d love to spend time with Sigmund, I’m sure, so that should work.
Sholem Aleichem – You know, the guy who wrote Fiddler On The Roof. Funniest writer I’ve ever read.
Franz Kafka – There are enough extroverts now to carry Franz. He’ll probably want to go to bed early, what with the melancholy and TB; he might not even make it to the third cup.
Queen Esther – She sounds fun (if you can ignore all the revenge killing). Open-minded (married out) and courageous, plus it’s all getting a bit male heavy, this guest list, so it’d be good to have her.
Nelson Mandela – Who wouldn’t want the person who;s shown us most recently the value of forgiveness and reconciliation (and enjoying a good dance)?
Shabbetai Zevi – Every seder needs a tricky character. This “false messiah” who converted to Islam when threatened with death should liven up the debate.
Madonna – A strong woman who’s interested in Jews (I’ll make sure it’s a cape-free zone).
Host: Julie Burchill, journalist and author
Dov Gruner, Yehiel Dresner, Mordechai Alkahi and Eliezer Kashani – Irgun freedom fighters, for their bravery during the re-birth of the Jewish nation.
Golda Meir – For her guts.
Moshe Dayan – To flirt with.
Avraham Stern – To gaze at.
Liz Taylor – Ditto.
Katie Glass – Sunday Times columnist, to slap my face, sober me up and call a cab.
Host: Philip Sallon, celebrity club host and man about town
Sigmund Freud – Bringing the brain/personality understanding and a motivation element to the seder
Karl Marx – The Jewish social conscience
Albert Einstein – The scientific contribution.
Jesus – He was a practicing, religious Jew and his Last Supper was a Passover celebration. It would be interesting to hear his take on how supposed Christ followers (Christians) idolise and worship a human as a God.
Fagin – potentally from the new Oliver movie, adding a dark but funny and entertaining element, and also good for playing the role of the ‘wicked son’ in the service.
Barbra Streisand – Good for singing and possible personality input, although when I met her while making a video, she didn’t have much to say.
Bette Midler – Another singer and bound to be feisty and fun.
Moses or Pharaoh Akhenaten – Who Freud said was the founder of the Jewish religion with his unique monotheistic, one-God worship beliefs. On the other hand, it might be fun hearing what it was like nattering away to God on top of Mount Sinai from Moses.
Host: Annabel Karmel, children’s food writer and nutrition expert
Neil Diamond – I’d like him to take the service.
Jackie Mason – I’d like him to comment on the service and add some humour; he takes ordinary life and shows us the funny side of how we behave.
Basil Fawlty – I’d like him to serve the food.
Anne Frank – I’d like to welcome her to my table and give her a Passover to remember.
Shimon Peres – I’d like to offer him a job in light of his latest YouTube video.
Joan Rivers – Because of her controversial, self-deprecating and acerbic humour.
Barbra Streisand – I’d like her to sing the songs at the end of the service.
Jeffrey Archer – We share the same literary agent and he came over for dinner one evening and had us all in stitches. He is a great raconteur.
Host: Graham Gouldman, musician and member of 10CC
My wife Ariella – It couldn’t happen without her.
Paul Simon – For musical chit chat.
Bob Dylan – As above.
Moses – So I could find out what really happened.
Jesus – To shake things up a bit.
Joan Rivers – For wit and personality.
Rabbi Akiva – To lead the service and provide solemnity.
Betty Gouldman – My mother, to tell the other guests who I am in case they don’t know.