At times like this religious families appreciate their size. Prolific reproduction means there are lots of children around the table and many mouths to feed becomes a blessing. It is never dull when there are lots of you, just noisy, which is better than being isolated with no one to share the egg in salt water.
One way of coping with absent relatives and friends at this year’s low key seder, is to create the ultimate fantasy seder guest list.
We asked some famous folk who they would invite to Manishtana alongside them…
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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: 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.
- 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)?
- 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: 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.