Monday, September 14, 2020

All the Rosh Hacoronah Simanim That’s Fit to Print

I made a thing. Please laminate, disseminate, and celebrate. Shana Tovah everybody!

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

I Made it to Webster's Dictionary!(?!)

There are dreams coming true (Extracts From Noah's Diary in NYPL; The Emoji Haggadah and The Coronavirus Haggadah in The New York Times) and then there are accomplishments never even dreamed of.

I made it to Webster's Dictionary! Wait, what? How?

Well, The Emoji Haggadah wound up in an example sentence for "rebus." Check it out. Is this a kick in the head or what?: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rebus  

Photo attached juuuuuuuuuuust in case another example replaces mine.

As a nice piece of gravy, in the fall issue of Jewish Action there is an exploratory article by the talented Steve Lipman, where he looks at the history of Jewish Humor in Dark Times. The Coronavirus Haggadah literally (I used that word not incorrectly in a sentence! Yay!) gets the last laugh. Have a peek:

https://jewishaction.com/religion/jewish-culture/finding-light-in-the-darkness-the-art-of-jewish-humor/

The Festivus Haggadah will get its place in the sun too. It's almost chag...

I just realized I've created 1/100th of 1% of all haggadot ever written. Gotta start cranking out the next one.

-Mordechi (Martin) Bodek

https://tinyurl.com/theemojihaggadah
https://tinyurl.com/FestivusHaggadah
https://www.amazon.com/Coronavirus-Haggadah-Martin-Bodek/dp/1716133629
https://tinyurl.com/NoahsDiary

Thursday, July 09, 2020

My 7th Annual Book Report

NaNoWriMo is imminent once more. Methinks now is a perfectly auspicious time to take stock of how I’m doing thus far with my publishing endeavors and to ask my friends which of my in-progress or in-my-head projects I should tackle exclusively for the month of November. I do this annually. The non-self-publishing industry has finally noticed that I exist, and I will publish an average of a book per year until 2095. I don’t know what my numbers will be then, but these are my numbers to date, in order of copies sold, completion percentage, and development stage in my brain, respectively:

Published (8):
The Emoji Haggadah: 2,969 copies sold. The haggadah, entirely translated into emojis. My biggest success; my coup de grace; my magnum opus, thus far. There is more in me, but this is my pinnacle to date. Well regarded, covered in media everywhere, including the apex: The New York Times, plus attention from popular bloggers, such as Naomi Nachman. People have tweeted excerpts of it with joy, which has given me joy. The Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t even halt its far reach. Yes, it’s a helluva conversation starter with complete strangers, and put me in touch with certain writers I admire. My favorite writer, A.J. Jacobs, sent me a postcard, thanking me for enriching his seder. That sent me over the moon. 3.0, where the Hebrew text faces the Emoji text on the other side, is in the future. Finally, it’s in dozens of libraries all over the world, and that makes me deliriously happy. At last count: 34 libraries, in 19 states, and 6 countries. https://tinyurl.com/theemojihaggadah

The Festivus Haggadah: 93 copies sold. A mash-up of the haggadah and everything Seinfeld, but especially the Festivus holiday. Already my 2nd-best-selling book just months after publication, and its first prime-selling Festivus season (12/23) not even having yet arrived. The creative part of my brain is constantly arguing with itself about which is the more creative endeavor, this or Emoji. It doesn’t matter who’s right. I win. This got a lot of good attention too, with more to come, as it’s of prime national pop-cultural interest. I even got an Amazon review from the mighty Dave Cowen. Now that sure was somethin’. https://tinyurl.com/FestivusHaggadah

54 Runners, 54 Stories: The Tale of the 2012 200k JRunners Relay Race: 79 copies sold. JRunners lives on, but its signature sanctioned race is on hiatus, and I miss it. This is the chronicle of the last such race. I’m very proud of the dogged efforts I put into this one, in pursuing the stories. I targeted an entire very-niche market, and sold it to nearly all of them. A sequel might perhaps one day be written, but it likely requires a full relay to be deserving of that, and a return to the glory days. It could happen. May we return speedily to those days, Amen. 
http://tinyurl.com/JRunnersBook

The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity: 74 copies sold. The things that people moan and groan about concerning their fellow man, especially on Facebook, are all covered here. Every time I revisit the manuscript, it feels so current. Proud of this one too. 
http://tinyurl.com/BehaviorBook

Bush II, Book I: 66 copies sold. The King-James-esque telling of the 2nd Bush’s 1st term. The world has found this book, my first-born. It exists somewhere that’s getting attention. Kindle versions are constantly finding themselves into strangers’ hands. Every time 9/11 approaches, I get a spike in sales. 
http://tinyurl.com/BushIIBookI

A Conversation on The Way: 66 copies sold. An imagined conversation between a believer and a skeptic on a morning walk to synagogue, based on my own experiences. Reviewed on several blogger sites, featured at the YU Seforim Sale, and nicely received. I especially enjoy the artwork by Dena Szpilzinger, the first hired professional of my writing career. I’m hoping to afford other services, like editing and publicity, though I am grateful to my volunteers, particularly Messrs. Michael Sharf, Jeff Goodstein, and Yaakov Sash. 
http://tinyurl.com/ConvoBook

Extracts From Noah’s Diary: 62 copies sold. Mark Twain wrote Extracts from Adam’s Diary, then followed up later with Eve’s Diary, then did not follow up any further, save for some parodies of Methuselah’s entries. This is where I came in; a sequel 100 years overdue. So big, it’s biblical. I was successful in having it reviewed by a small handful of book sites. I worked hard on the jokes, and strenuously on the research. It’s actually a giant d’var torah, and I feel my baby deserves more attention than it’s gotten. It is my first book ever to grace the New York Public Library’s shelves. I made it to Valhalla. 
http://tinyurl.com/NoahsDiary

The Coronavirus Haggadah: 10 copies sold. I’m actually surprised to have sold that many, as I gave it away for free after publication. Why? Well, I wrote it – the haggadah as seen through the lens of the 2020 pandemic, and featuring heaps of bittersweetness and sarcasm - in a frenzy, but very close to Passover, so I had no chance to get a proof copy with such little time left. So, free it was to the world (and I have no way of tracking how many folks grabbed the free version (https://tinyurl.com/CoronavirusHaggadah), but I nevertheless created paid book and electronic versions, whose proceeds entirely went to CDC Cares, who really, really needed it at the time. Lotsa folks apparently had it at their seder tables, and may there be no use for it ever again, except for a nostalgic laugh, amen. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/martin-bodek/the-coronavirus-haggadah/paperback/product-186jdv5v.html

In progress (13):
Children's Book #1 with Classified Title: 100% complete. I can’t tell you what this is, I can’t even give any kind of hint except to say that it’s topical, it’s urgent, and it parodies a famous work from my favorite children’s author’s collection. The text is done, but I need an illustrator to work with, and it’s been tough to find one. Because of the topicality, I have to begin querying publishers with just the text. That isn’t ideal, but I have no choice. If I don’t forge ahead, I might lose a prime opportunity. Here we go!

Zaidy's War: 60% complete. My maternal grandfather's memoirs, which I recorded in notebooks and on VHSes. This was my NaNoWriMo for several years, as I continued to pound away at the translation. I’m delighted to say that this facet of the project is now complete, and I’ve begun stringing the shocking narrative together. The book is three parts: pre-war, war, and post-war. Pre-war is complete too! So 2/3rds of half the book are left to be done, plus lots of appendix work, and documentation collection. The work is long, but steady. There’s still much research to do, but I carry on. Zaidy passed away almost seven years ago, and it’s important for his story to see the light of day. I’m most focused on this project.

Bush II, Book II: Manuscript 47% complete. I haven’t tackled this in a while, but it’s time to return. The attention the first book is getting warrants this. Also, I really didn’t think I wouldn’t get the sequel out before Obama’s tenure was complete. Trump, Book I would be a nutball project to tackle, even though it’ll be over soon, one way or the other, I pray.

The Year of Bad Behavior II: More Scalawags, Dirtbags, Bullyrags, and Lollygags: Manuscript 30% complete. I also must return to this as well. The format differs from its prequel – grievances are ordered by category, rather than written as diary entries – and I think I’ll have an interesting product when complete. NJTransit’s stupidities, on their own, warrant a complete spin-off.

A Conversation on the Conversation: Manuscript 20% complete. The first book is begging for a sequel, but it’s going to take lots of work. The quasi-fictional idea is that the original becomes a best-seller, and I’m invited to a talk show to discuss. This is the hard part. I and my interviewer pore over the original manuscript point for point, and I also will include rebuttals to my arguments that I received (in real life) from readers. It’s daunting, big big, but I’ll get it done somehow.

Forty Runners Less One: Stories and Glories From the 2013 200k JRunners 200k Relay Race: Manuscript: 11% complete. I collected the runner stories and also conducted interviews when needed. I also collected stories for the 2014 version of the race, and actually got 25% of the pack’s write-ups. Same for 2015, but with a drastically dwindled amount, and for 2016, with even smaller numbers, and for 2017, with almost nothing. Alas, there has been no relay since. It looks like the runners are more eager to contribute, as mentioned above, when the relay is a full one. I think I have to pull that off before I pull a book sequel off, in which all past year’s entries that I have on file will be included. I’ll target the same niche group as the original, and hopefully attract more runners to the great race.

The Man Who Read 1,001 Books Before He Died: 10.3% complete. You know those popular 1,001 xxx to xxx Before You Die books? Specifically, the Books to Read one? I thought it would be a neat trick to actually read those 1,001 books and write about the experience. This was what I NaNoWriMoed six years ago, and I’ve been fully immersed since. Whether you measure my status by the number of books I’m up to (103) or the pace at which I’ll read them (I’m scheduled to finish in August 2067. I should live so long!), the number is 10.3%. I’ve got a long way to go, but the progress will be steady. There is no question it’ll be the largest work I’ll ever put out. Not even six years in, it stands at 68,000 words/242 pages.

And Mordechai Wrote: 3% complete. My paternal grandfather’s memoirs. The man for whom I am named recorded his thoughts about losing his wife and three children in WWII, surfacing from the ashes with his faith intact, marrying my grandmother, rebuilding a home with six children, then suffering for years from lung cancer until his death at age 47. He called the collection Vayichtav Mordechai, and it is entirely written in Hebrew. I started the translation five NaNoWriMos ago, but admittedly fell off the wagon when I found a new job, plus I jumped into other writing projects. I have to re-shift priorities and jump back on the wagon again. I’ll revisit after I complete Zaidy’s War, and hope to produce this before the end of next year, or, preferably before next Yom HaShoah.

The Man Who Read 1,001 Children’s Books Before He Died: 0.7% complete. Something tells me I might actually die before I read all 1,001 grown-up books that I need to before I die. Maybe no, maybe yes, so I need a sub-project I might actually finish. This might do the trick, and also kills two birds with one stone: My wife has been after me for years to produce a children’s book. The only way I can really understand the mechanics of one is to, well, read them, all. So that’s what I’m doing, and I’m chronicling the experience. I’m barely out of the gates at this point, with only 7 read so far, but this will gather a head of steam quickly, I gather.

My First 36 Marathons: The Running Story of a Midpack Runner: Putting all my marathon running reports together. Hoping I can find them all. I wonder if I’ll be successful. If I can actually find them, collating should be a snap. Everything’s already been written! This would include the as-yet-unwritten reports that I have all notes for, and would exclude the Makeshift Marathon I ran when Sandy canceled NYC in 2012, and also the thirteen ultras I’ve run. Or maybe they shouldn’t be excluded at all, as I’ve run 49 marathons-or-longer. I’ll think about it.

Children's Book #2 with Classified Title: I'm trying to write a parody of a famous children's book. My fresh angle is to switch the antagonist and protagonist’s points of view. First draft did not pass muster with my Editor-in-Chief. Not creative enough. Will submit new drafts shortly.

Children's Book #3 with Classified Title: I'm trying to write a parody of a less famous  - albeit more notorious - children's book. First draft did not pass muster with my Editor-in-Chief. Too tawdry. Will submit new drafts shortly.

The Knish’s Best 192 Articles of the First 192 it’s Published: I launched the first issue 17 years ago, and released issue #32, the last one, just a few years back. The time may have arrived – as with my Marathon project above – to house them all in a single compendium, as a way of celebrating the site’s 4th anniversary of its Bar Mitzvah. Everything’s written, I just need to write an intro and a timeline and do a pile of formatting. Shouldn’t be a big deal. Problem, though, would be how to share revenue with all the writers. What would be a fair system?

In my head (18):

How the Countries Got Their Shapes: I read a wonderful book entitled How the States Got Their Shapes, by Mark Stein. It’s exactly what you think it is. I did the best research I could, and could find not a single book that covers the concept on a global scale. I could be the man who could fill that gap. I would enjoy the research very much. I wonder if I’d have to ask the author of the inspiration for permission before proceeding.

The Israel/Gaza War: The 102nd Bloodiest Conflict in the World in 2014: Amid the swaths of the myriad piles of articles I read on the topic, one little factoid stood out to me out of all others: that little statistic that I think would be an alarming book title. Because Israel has so many challenges coming from all directions, it also – as a silver lining of sorts – creates opportunities for people concerned for her to battle on her behalf. Perhaps I could contribute in this way, by helping to focus attention away from Israel and towards at least 101 other places on earth that deserve more international concern and intervention. I would have to come face to face with a lot of evil, though, plus the research would be difficult, and the data murky. This might be a calling I might have to answer, though.

Territorial Disputes: A Primer on the 600 Other International Land Quarrels No One Knows or Cares About, But Should: Along the same lines as above: a very long story, very short: somehow a miracle happened that the president of a publishing company invited me to present to his committee - that publishes books in a “Things You Need To Know” motif - my thoughts around how only Israel – and perhaps Cyprus/Turkey and India/Pakistan – gets vilified over its land issues with its neighbors. My project was declined, but it’s being kept on the burner. If they won’t go with it, perhaps I’ll strike out on my own (something I’m familiar with). As above, this might be an opportunity to shine the spotlight on an area more deserving, and away from where it is currently. Which project would be worthier? Hmmm…

Children's Book #4 with Classified Title: Oh man, another antagonist/protagonist switching parody idea hit me, following a visit to a noted children’s author’s museum. This is how I intentionally seek inspiration. It works! I’ll be fleshing this one out too.

Children's Book #5 with Classified Title: I was inspired by a series of photographs that I took of my children. My Editor-in-Chief has some great ideas about spinning it into a bedtime story. I’m pondering the text, and will need an illustrator to convert the pictures we have into artwork for the book.

Parenting Book with Classified Title: There are many parenting books out there. Most of them are garbage. I have an idea for one with a healthy dose of humor and a large general twist. My everyday parenting keeps inspiring ideas for the project. I think I’m to begin putting pen-to-paper on this shortly.

The Inevitables: A Gladwellian idea I have about people who spend their entire lives in pursuit of a specific career, switch to something else on a dime, and become wildly successful despite a complete lack of practice or the 10,000 hours Gladwell himself talks about.

Universals: The Differences and Similarities Between Global Cultures: I’m fascinated by this. There are things that are the same 99% of everywhere (basic utensils, green is go, cash for service, elemental human needs), and things that are different 99% of everywhere (voting systems, traffic handling, cordiality, attire, interpretation of freedom, hand gestures, justice). I’d like to explore. I’ve been traveling more lately on behalf of my corporation, and my cultural experiences have expanded, as has my curiosity.

Speakers of the Torah: My first actual sefer-esque idea. While researching my Noah book, it struck me how little dialogue God has with his direct primordial creations. Noah never speaks to God. Adam speaks two utterances to his Creator. Eve speaks to Him more than her husband does. There is also limited dialogue between man and man. I read a discourse by the famous Nechama Leibowitz on the dialogues of the biblical Joseph. She made fascinating conclusions, and it left me intrigued. I think this idea is worth exploring in full, and I wonder where the research will take me. I focused on this for NaNoWriMo 2019 and fantastic statistical revelations really popped out as I went elbow-deep into the text. I might have something here. I have torah in me. I should get it out. I won’t lose focus on the grandfather memoirs, promise.

Things that Drive Me Crazy About the Talmud: My second actual even more sefer-esque idea. My shadchan self-published a sefer recently, borne out of notes he kept while learning through TaNaCH over a 15-year period. They were truly original thoughts that he compressed into a single, impressive volume. I realized while reading that our thought-lines were quite similar, especially in regards to the myriad unanswered questions – and potentially original ones – that I had about the gemorah, in which I’m currently immersed in my third cycle of learning. I have begun to keep notes, and here too, I will look back after a time and see if I have anything worthy of being recorded in a single large volume. Apologies, I don’t have a more polite title at this time – and maybe I’ll just go with it.

If These Objects Could Talk. I was inspired by the candlesticks my wife inherited from her great-grandmother. The family took it with them when on the run, and in hiding, during WWII. I was also inspired by a similar story of the late Ba’al Hamaor, Rav Meir Amsel, whose family brought their SHaS with them through all their difficult war travels, resulting in a family tradition for every Bar Mitzvah boy to do his first learning out of this said SHaS. It strikes me that if these objects could talk about their experiences and journeys, it would make a fascinating, illuminating, enriching read. A book called The Hare with Amber Eyes covers very similar ground. I would publicly post a call for stories, and would probably get some very interesting responses. The more I ponder this one, the more worthy it seems.

Where Stuff Comes From. Did you know that 28.5% of the world’s beer comes from Mexico? Did you know that 30% of the world’s coconuts come from Indonesia? Madagascar grows 41% of the world’s vanilla. China produces 67% of the world’s cement. Spain makes 75% of the world’s olive oil. Isn’t all that fascinating? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know where exactly everything comes from? It’s interesting to me. I’d buy a book to read about it. Methinks I have to write it so I can read it.

Where U.S. Stuff Comes From. Did you know that 60% of the USA’s cranberries come from Wisconsin? Did you know that 60% of the USA’s sweet potatoes come from North Carolina? 99% of artichokes are grown in California. 100% (!!!) of sorghum, rice, soybeans, eggs, dairy, pork, chicken and turkey meat is made right at home. As a matter of fact, 87% of what Americans eat and drink is produced on home base. Wouldn’t this be fun to explore too? Wouldn’t it be fun for curious sorts from all countries to know where their stuff comes from? If the answer is yes, I’d be happy to have 100% of this information come from me.

A Brief History of Every One of the 3,000 Haggadot Ever Written. This past Passover, I was commissioned by the editors of The Jewish Book Council to write A Brief History of the Haggadah (https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/pb-daily/a-brief-history-of-the-haggadah). The research led me to various and fascinating places. I covered 2% of the total by citing 60 haggadot in their relevance and contexts. Upon completion, I thought: wouldn’t it be wild to get my hands – or my eyes, through museum glass – on each and every one of them? Wouldn’t that be an awesome collection, and adventure? Vanessa L. Ochs recently published The Passover Haggadah: A Biography, which might cover similar ground, but I haven’t read it yet (It’s on my Amazon Wish List. Wink wink!), and I’m presuming before I do that mine might be more ambitious, and certainly more peripatetic. This would need massive travel funding, though. Just an idea for now.

Biography idea. I admire certain people, and I’d like to tell their stories. But who exactly am I to do that, and why would anyone want to partake from my offering? Well, I’m arrogant enough to believe that I’ve come up with a novel, immersive way of telling a life story. Before I’d even begin, I’d first have to be actually making a living as a writer, because the concept would require enormous amounts of travel and time away from family. Let’s get to where this is even financially viable before I embark.

Obama, Book I: Must Finish Bush II, Book II first.

Obama, Book II: I never thought there’d be a sequel. I have a lot to learn.

Trump, Book I: OMG, do I have to? Previous presidents paced themselves with a scandal per year. This guy creates one every time he speaks with his mouth or thumbs. I would never get done with writing such a thing.

When you let me know which project I should tackle – or stay focused on - for November, also please let me know what my grade is on my report.

Oh, and feel free to avail yourself to a book of mine or two (Just a few more sales and I will have sold 3,500 books; nice little milestone) at 50%-75% off. I'll have several more items on my bookshelf for you very soon, but for now, truly, the lineup is quite colorful, and pleasing to the eye – at least to mine: 
https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcomhttp://tinyurl.com/BodekKindleBooks

Man, I also gotta resurrect TheKnish.com, write my next surname article, catch up on my travelogues and marathon run write-ups…

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

I Made it to The New York Times

I made it to The New York Times. Me. In The Times. Speaking about my work, referencing two of the haggadot (The Emoji HaggadahThe Coronavirus Haggadah) that I've written (and slightly implying the third [The Festivus Haggadah]), included with other luminaries and some other fine works. This is almost unreal:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/style/diy-haggadah.html

Have a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful chag kosher v'samaeach. This year it will be constrained, but next year, let's have it with friends and family, all together, in Jerusalem!

Sunday, April 05, 2020

A Brief History of the Haggadah

After publishing three haggadot in two years (The Emoji Haggadah, The Festivus Haggadah, and The Coronavirus Haggadah), I got the call from The Jewish Book Council to write the actual history of the Haggadah.

I painstakingly researched the topic for two months, and I’m very proud of the results. The JBC also supported it with beautiful related art, and well-curated pullouts:

https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/pb-daily/a-brief-history-of-the-haggadah

I would be honored if you would print it out and enjoy it at your seder or anytime over Pesach.

I’d like to think that I’ve created enough varied, enjoyable Pesach material for the whole family, and that some of it might take the edge off this very stressful period in our human history.

My heart is with anyone faced with celebrating chag alone.

My “vinch” and prayer is that we a) find meaning and inspiration in this year’s Passover despite the difficulties and limitations, and b) enjoy our Passovers next year with whomever we had hoped to join at seders this year.

Have a wonderful Yom Tov.

-Martin (Mordechi) Bodek

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Two Media Scores for The Coronavirus Haggadah

The Coronavirus Haggadah - apparently, slated to be read by lots and lots of people as a form of comic relief at passover seders - is in the Pesach Edition of The Jewish Vues (https://view.flipdocs.com/?PID=1000741, pages 80-81, and below)

Its "origin story" appears in this week's The Jewish Week: https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/elijahs-quarantined-in-this-haggadah/

As a reminder, here it is for free: https://tinyurl.com/CoronavirusHaggadah

And here it is where the proceeds go to all those in the trenches: http://www.lulu.com/shop/martin-bodek/the-coronavirus-haggadah/paperback/product-24486572.html  

And yes, I do want to fill up your table with haggadot (https://tinyurl.com/FestivusHaggadahhttp://tinyurl.com/theemojihaggadah), and my master plan is working out exactly as intended. Muahahahahaha!

AND! I have an essay coming out soon on the History of the Haggadah. I guess I've come to know a few things. Stay tuned!

Martin Bodek,

Ba'al HaHaggadot


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

An Open Letter to Jackie Pick

An open Letter to Jackie Pick, Offering Passover Seder Advice Dear Jackie, I read your open letter to Dr. Fauci (https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-open-letter-to-dr-anthony-fauci-asking-for-passover-seder-advicewith great interest. Dr. Fauci's day is well-documented. He works 19 hours a day, runs for 45 minutes, then presumably washes his hands for the remainder of the time.
As such, he likely won't have any time to respond to your letter. Fortunately, I'm in a position to, having written The Coronavirus Haggadah in apparent anticipation of your letter. Its contents address nearly every single one of your points. You made 14 points, and there are 14 sections to the seder. Coincidence? I think not. I address handwashing particulars, afikoman regulations, Elijah's activities this year, and much more. Please enjoy, and have a wonderful seder. I have it here for free distribution: https://tinyurl.com/CoronavirusHaggadah And I have print and ebook versions whose proceeds go to whom the work is dedicated: for all those in the trenches. http://www.lulu.com/shop/martin-bodek/the-coronavirus-haggadah/paperback/product-24486572.html http://www.lulu.com/shop/martin-bodek/the-coronavirus-haggadah/ebook/product-24486799.html Sincerely, Martin Bodek

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Coronavirus Haggadah, Free For All

The Coronavirus Haggadah is free to the world, to distribute at will, and to partake of heartily around the Passover table. May we return to the Old Normal soon. Amen:


I have also created print and e-book versions, whose proceeds will go to whom the book is dedicated: for all those in the trenches.



Note: formatting may be imperfect, due to the rush to get this out in time for Passover.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Coronavirus Haggadah


After publishing The Emoji Haggadah and The Festivus Haggadah, I didn't think I could come up with yet another haggadah. I was wrong. I present to you:

The Coronavirus Haggadah, AKA Passover 2020, by Martin Bodek

KADESH

When the father comes home from praying in the middle of the street with the properly distanced four cubits per person, he immediately runs to the sink, and washes his hands with kosher for Passover soap and water for 20 seconds, while humming his favorite guitar solo. Then, he recites the benediction over water with a grape-y taste. Proper grape juice being unavailable since the closed Passover programs made it almost as scarce as toilet paper.

URCHATZ

The head of the household scrubs his hands again, for 20 seconds, as does every other member of the household - but one at a time, to create the proper social distancing. Usually, no blessing is said here, but this year the proper blessing is Birkat Hagomel.

KARPAS

The tradition is to dip a vegetable into salt water- typically parsley, celery, potato, onion, or lettuce. Since none of that could be secured at the store due to preppers and hoarders, anything green will do. It doesn't have to be food: some grass clippings or a Hulk toy will suffice. Also, due to low availability of table salt, we recommend using the surplus Ice-Melt in the garage (and having the poison hotline number ready). Winter has been cancelled for the rest of civilization anyway due to global warming, so you won't need it. If you're lucky, drinking the road salt will kill the coronavirus, a win-win.

URCHATZ II

Everybody gets up one at time - not even single-file will be allowed - and scrubs their hands again for another 20 seconds. While doing so, it's a segulah to sing the alphabet in a language you don't speak, so that you spend longer washing your hands.

YACHATZ

The head of the household takes the already-broken (due to legally questionable price-gouging on whole ones) middle matzah and breaks it further. He then estimates which the larger half of shattered pieces is and places it in the afikoman (Greek word meaning "ransom") bag, and hides it in a painfully obvious spot. This lack of cunning is to prevent children from wandering outside to look for it. Can't have that; it's The Purge out there.

URCHATZ III

This time the person with the most-chapped hands goes first, out of respect.

MAGID

We tell over and bring down the story of our exodus, and we begin with the prayer of Ha Lachma Anya. The text is spoken as usual, but with one edit: the part about inviting the hungry to come and eat. Yeah, no one's invited this year. Maybe next year, after the apocalypse.

As for the Mah Nishtana, these are the four questions that can be asked: 

  1. Does anyone really need to ask why this night is different from all other nights?
  2. Do you not see what's been happening all around you? 
  3. Do you live under a rock?
  4. Have you been under quarantine for so long, you completely forgot why you’ve been under quarantine in the first place?

However, the head of the household is encouraged to solicit questions, starting with the youngest at the table, and to put no cap on it whatsoever. Don't worry, nobody's going anywhere for a long time, and there's no second night of Passover to prepare for. It was ruled that due to all the various quarantines and shelters-in-place, everywhere is considered a walled city, which means nobody is in Chutz L'aretz or “outside of the land.”

We then recite Avadim Hayinu, as a way to begin to expound on the miracles God hath (fancy Old-English word meaning "has") wrought for us. People who expound on this are considered praiseworthy. Expound away. Some have the new tradition of snacking on (non-kitniyot) Snickers at this point, because you're not going anywhere for a while. Ah har har har. Also, you’re pretty hungry at this point.

Then we recite some short, sweet homiletics about five ancient rabbis who loved to palaver so much, they didn't realize that time had passed until reminded of the time at dawn. Boy, don't you wonder what they would have talked about under our circumstances? At their advanced age, they probably wouldn't be allowed to get together in the first place, due to their 15% death rate. Except for the sneaky one who was actually 18. Clever trick.

The new full text for the section of The Four Sons is as follows:

What does the wise child ask? "What are the advisable things we should be doing during this crisis?" You will respond by instructing the child in the intelligent and responsible measures of social distancing, handwashing, learning the science, understanding the curve-flattening concept, and looking out for your fellow human being.

What does the wicked child ask? "What is with all you people?" It is therefore proper to respond forcefully: "What's the matter with us? What's the matter with you? Get a clue!" Then we imagine giving a V8 slap in the head, but we don't do it for real. Corporal Punishment is Old School. Also, Social Distancing.

What does the simple child ask? "What is this?" With a mighty hand will the Eternal Being, or science, or maybe both, bring us out of this mess.

But as for the one who has no capacity to ask, you must begin the narration in accord with the statement, "And you shall relate to your child on that day," that this is what happens to a society when it doesn't put proper safeguards in place, refuses to acknowledge the truth at the outset, Fake Newses everything until it's suddenly too late, and has people who think they're not subject to sensible rules.

We then speed along the next few paragraphs, so we can make some progress - gosh, we're starving! - and pause at Vehi She’amda, which is now paraphrased thus:

And it is that promise which has been our ancestors' support and ours, for not just one disease has stood against us, but in every generation some have arisen to exterminate us, yet the Most Holy and blessed, using science as his primary tool, saved us.

You see what I did there. Subtle.

A few more paragraphs to zip through, but taking a beat to stare at this whopper: "Your breast is formed, and your hair is grown, whereas you had been naked and bare." Chortle to yourself like Beavis and Butthead, then move on. People aren't paying attention at this point anyway. They're too busy deciphering The Emoji Haggadah

Next stop is Vinitzak el HaShem, which we pause to say out loud all together, and needs no paraphrasing whatsoever:

And we cried out to The Eternal, the God of our fathers, and The Eternal heard our voice, saw our affliction, our sorrow, and our oppression. And our empty cupboards. Our tushies, however, are nice and clean.

We motor through a large chunk of the text and arrive at The Plagues. The ten usual ones are unchanged, but we're going to add the 11th plague to the list this year. That is Coronavirus, of course.

This effectively means that Rabbi Yehuda's initials formulation now reads D”etzach A”dash B”achavc. This new phrase still remains curiously indecipherable gibberish.

In honor of the spirited discussion between Rav Yose, Rabbi Akiva, and Rav Eliezer, we now take a moment to round-table discuss the nature of the coronavirus. Will this beast just end up being another version of the flu? Will it mutate to become more benign or more malignant? We know there are four coronaviruses already that are passed around seasonally. Will this just become the fifth? Or is this so lethal, it's in a class by itself? Will immune people still pass it on somehow? Will a vaccine protect for life, or be seasonal? Engage fully, and enjoy the intellectual rigor. Keep it going, the conversation will never be: dayenu. Ah har har har. The rest is not so funny:

If Chinese officials realized they were taking care of a very ill patient, but had not taken seventeen days to realize this was a new strain of coronavirus, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If it took them seventeen days, but had not asked the medical director to cover things up, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they asked the medical director to cover things up, but had not called it “pneumonia of unclear cause” after they already knew what it really was, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they called it “pneumonia of unclear cause," but had not ordered labs to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they ordered labs to stop testing samples and to destroy existing samples, but had not withheld their knowledge of the coronavirus' complete genetic information for a week, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they withheld their knowledge of the coronavirus' complete genetic information, but had not had the Wuhan Health Commission insist there are no new cases, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they had told the Wuhan Health Commission to insist there are no new cases, but had not informed the WHO that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus even though there was plenty of it, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they had informed the WHO that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus even though there was plenty of it, but had not let a patient with a known coronavirus infection travel to the U.S. (a day after the WHO made their announcement), it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they let a patient with a known coronavirus infection travel to the U.S. (a day after the WHO made their announcement), but had not then allowed a Wuhan festival to happen with tens of thousands of revelers, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

If they allowed a Wuhan festival to happen with tens of thousands of revelers, but had not allowed five million people to leave a locked-down Wuhan completely unscreened for illness, it would have been enough to contain the plague.

Had they allowed five million people to leave a locked-down Wuhan completely unscreened for illness, but had not allowed hundreds of millions of people to travel around their country on their Lunar New Year holiday, it would not have been enough to contain the plague.

We get to the section where we usually mention and point to the Pesach, Matzah, and Maror.

There is no shankbone. There isn't even chicken in stores anymore. Are kosher slaughterers still employed?

The matzah is all broken, as we discussed.

Maror is canceled this year. Our lives are embittered enough, even though we're doing our best to make the most of it.

We then lift our cups, praise God briefly, then lower our cups, and praise God more fully, because that's what we do, no matter what. We'll get through this.

URCHATZ IV

[Chorus]

RACHTZAH

Everyone washes their hands, for 40 seconds this time. They must be filthy after this long delay. That last washing two minutes ago didn't count.

URCHATZ V

Just in case anyone skimped on soap. Back to the sink everyone goes. 60 seconds as a penalty.

MOTZI MATZAH

Food! Or some resemblance of it. Tuck in. Matzah is supposed to be symbolic of the manna the Israelites received from heaven while wandering around without Waze in the desert. It is said to have tasted like honey, and it says in Tractate Berachot that honey is a 60th of the taste of heaven. So that's what matzah tastes like.

Right, all we know for sure is that the constipation will help us save on toilet paper this year.

Don't forget to take off your facemask before eating.

URCHATZ VI

120 seconds, for all you cheaters. Off to the sink. And Purell when you return, for good measure. Purell was kosher for Passover even before this year.

MAROR

As we have discussed, this is completely redundant. However, we still have the charoset, which we usually dip our maror into. The charoset this year symbolizes the pain and affliction of (non-essential) brick-and-mortar stores. Since we're the ones embittered, everyone fills a bowl up with the stuff, flops their face into the mix, and blows. We need some levity for the situation. Prizes for most creative splatter.

URCHATZ VII

Everybody back to the sink to wash your faces too. No humming snippets of a song this time. You must sing whole songs, at least four minutes long. This is a problem, because the average song is three and a half minutes long, unless it's a song by The Ramones, which are all approximately seventeen seconds long. Songs like Bohemian Rhapsody or Stairway to Heaven will have to do.

KORECH

We mash together our mashed matzah, random green objects, the charoset, and our embittered spirits and we recite that this is what Hillel did back in the good ol' days, with delicious ingredients, but this Poor Man’s Korech is what we're doing now. Oy, Mah Haya Lanu can be recited this time as well.

URCHATZ VIII

Everyone's face is still a massive mess, plus everyone has charoset mustaches. Okay, everyone in the shower, and reconvene in twenty minutes.

SHULCHAN ORECH

Food? What food? The matriarch hasn't cooked her own Pesach food in sixteen years, and forgot how. Also, most Pesach programs didn't refund anyone, so there was no money for food. Enjoy the korech crumbs and move on. For dessert: korech atoms.

URCHATZ IX

Last shower wasn't long enough. Everyone back in, and reconvene in forty minutes.

TZAFOON

Bribery execution time. This year children will be creative, knowing they can't get physical things for a while, because global supply lines are cut. Prepare for heartbreak as they ask for hugs, playdates, permission to go back to school, and grandparents.

URCHATZ X

Everyone whips out the Lysol can under their chairs, and empties the entire contents on the person to their immediate left - since you have to lean that way anyway.

BARECH

We say Grace After Meals, and we praise the Lord, because He'll get us through this, as He always has: with a mighty hand and an outstretched forearm. In the past, when faced with similar crises, He sent us Jenner, and Jesty, and Pearson, and Pasteur, and Roux, and Toussaint, and Galtier, and Gemaleia, and Haffkine, and Pfeiffer, and Kolle, and Wright, and Ramon, and Glenny, and Hilleman, and Koch, and Salk, and Koprowski, and Sabin. And they created vaccines for cholera, and rabies, and tetanus, and typhoid fever, and bubonic plague, and tuberculosis, and diphtheria, and scarlet fever, and tetanus, and pertussis, and yellow fever, and typhus, and tick-borne encephalitis, and influenza, and polio, and Japanese encephalitis, and anthrax, and adenovirus-4 and 7, and measles, and mumps, and rubella, and chicken pox, and pneumonia, and meningitis, and hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Q fever, and hepatitis A, and Lyme disease, and rotavirus, and human papillomavirus, and hepatitis E, and enterovirus 71, and malaria, and dengue fever, and ebola, and he will send someone, or several someones with a vaccine for coronavirus. This will not end with an opaque hand grabbing hold of a bomb in Vegas (shout-out to Uncle Stevie!) but with a vaccine. We must do our spiritual and pragmatic utmost, and He will do His part at the appropriate time. He will send it; man will administer it. And if He wants to send it Himself, with no agent, no angel, no seraph, but by Himself? All the better. Whatever it will take. Amen.

We then imbibe our third cup of grape-y juice. We sure could use it right about now, no matter the dilution.

We now reach the part where we usually welcome Elijah at the door, but he was ordered to quarantine with the rest of Israel's citizens. Elijah asked Santa Claus to pitch in, but Mr. Kringle is under lockdown in Canada himself. Instead, we open the front door and shout at the outside world:

We pour out our wrath against those who would not self-isolate despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers, and against those who wouldn't heed logical warnings, or look out for their fellow human beings, for they caused a consuming of the people of Jacob, and ruined his home. We pour out our annoyance against you and our fierce anger overtakes us. We will pursue you in rage and destroy you from under the heavens of the Eternal. Actually, we can't leave the house. Coronavirus will take care of that.

URCHATZ XI

My Grace After Meals soapbox speech doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue washing our hands. This further stresses my point. You feel me?

HALLEL

We Praise God some more, because that's what we do. And well, since everything else that we used to do, we can't do anymore - like, oh, I dunno, pray with a quorum, we stick with the things we can still do. Focus hard on the "Ana HaShem" part.

We recite Ki L'olam Chasdo verbatim. It isn't necessary to print that here. Grab another Haggadah and look it up. Man, I hope you haven't been using this here Haggadah as an actual substitute!

Now drink that fourth cup down, why don'tcha? Have another while you're at it. That doesn't have to stop.

URCHATZ XII

Lysol, Purell, and soap, all together. Who cares if that's illogical? It feels like we're doing something.

NIRTZAH

This year, the lyrics are changed to the following:

The commemoration service of the Passover has now been accomplished according to nothing of its common order, or any of the usual laws and rules of the feast. As we have been considered worthy to prepare this new version, now grant also that we may be worthy to complete it the real way. You, Most Holy Who dwells on high, raise up your innumerable people. Hasten to conduct us with joyful singing to the plants of Your redeemed vineyard in Zion.

(This year in virtual Jerusalem, but) Next Year in Jerusalem!

You can skip Vayehi Bachatzi Halailah. Nobody knows a good song for it anyway, and everybody just mumbles through it.

You can recite Ki Lo Na'eh verbatim.

As for Adir Hu, you can recite everything exactly as is, but every time it says "bayto" or “baytcha," replace that with "vaccine." It's also exactly two syllables, and it flows very nicely.

And now: Who Knows Zero?

Who knows zero?
I know zero. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows one? 
I know one. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows two? I know two. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows three? I know three. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows four? I know four. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows five? I know five. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows six? I know six. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows seven? I know seven. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows eight? I know eight. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows nine? I know nine. Nine is the number of months from now when we'll find out if we'll have a Baby Boom or Baby Bust. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows ten? I know ten. Ten is the minimum number of seconds you have to count down from any time your schooling-from-home children nag you during your working-from-home day. Nine is the number of months from now when we'll find out if we'll have a Baby Boom or Baby Bust. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows eleven? I know eleven. Eleven are the stars, which you know because stargazing is one of several new habits, now that you're stuck at home. Did you know there are 88 constellations? Cool. Ten is the minimum number you have to count down from any time your schooling-from-home children nag you during your working-from-home day. Nine is the number of months from now when we'll find out if we'll have a Baby Boom or Baby Bust. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows twelve? I know twelve. Twelve are the new grey hairs on your head. Eleven are the stars, which you know because stargazing is one of several new habits, now that you're stuck at home. Did you know there are 88 constellations? Cool. Ten is the minimum number you have to count down from any time your schooling-from-home children nag you during your working-from-home day. Nine is the number of months from now when we'll find out if we'll have a Baby Boom or Baby Bust. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Who knows thirteen? I know thirteen. Thirteen are the total hairs left on your head. Twelve are the new grey hairs on your head. Eleven are the stars, which you know because stargazing is one of several new habits, now that you're stuck at home. Did you know there are 88 constellations? Cool. Ten is the minimum number you have to count down from any time your schooling-from-home children nag you during your working-from-home day. Nine is the number of months from now when we'll find out if we'll have a Baby Boom or Baby Bust. Eight is the new amount of cups of wine you can have at the seder this year. Seven are the boxes of baking soda you discovered behind all your food, each with a signature odor. Six is the minimum distance of feet you should maintain from your fellow human being. Five are the last cuts of meat that might be woolly mammoth steak. Four are the leftover mashed candy bars which will have to be carbon dated before eating. Three are the baggies left in the freezer whose contents you can't name. Two are the number of gloves allocated to each person. One is the number of houses you're stuck in with your family. Zero is how many squares there are left to spare.

Chad Gadya

For the grand finale, I cannot improve on the version drawn up by the talented Benjamin Blumenthal, whose little creation was the impetus for the creation of this full re-imagining of the Haggadah. I give him full props, and full credit, and really, his version is so good, that everything preceded here before was really just a buildup to his punchline:

"In the Pesach spirit:

Chad gad yaw.
Chad gad yaw.

There once was a bat who caught a virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Pangolin who devoured the bat that caught the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Chinese man, who ate the pangolin, who devoured the bat that caught the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came an Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin who devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin who devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Brit that drank a pint with the Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came an American that hugged the Brit that had a pint with the Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a long flight with 300 passengers and the American that hugged the Brit that had a pint with the Frenchie, who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Global pandemic that freaked out the whole world including the 300 passengers and the American that hugged the Brit that had a pint with the Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came a Global Rush on toilet paper and mandated home offices with children homeschooling in a pandemic that freaked out the whole world including the 300 passengers and the American that hugged the Brit that had a pint with the Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw.

Along came GOD - The Holy One, Blessed Be He, King of Heaven, Master of the Universe - Who reassured us that family closeness, shared meals, slowing down, being still, grateful and compassionate, and praying together, even if by video, is itself a blessing and exactly what the world needs right now, which calmed the Global Rush on toilet paper in mandated home offices with children homeschooling in a pandemic that freaked out the whole world including the 300 passengers and the American that hugged the Brit that had a pint with the Frenchie who kissed the Italian, who shook hands with the Chinese, who ate the pangolin that devoured the bat that had the virus. Chad gad yaw. Chad gad yaw!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy passover.

- Benjamin Blumenthal, 3/18/2020"

You may now drink cups 5 through 8.

URCHATZ XIII

One more shower before hitting the sack.

Please God, this will all, very soon, Passover.

Martin Bodek is the author of The Emoji Haggadah and The Festivus Haggadah, and as you can see, he takes his new title of "Ba'al HaHaggadot" very seriously.