Seder Advice

Many non-Jews are invited to a Passover meal, or Seder. ( Seder means “order” in Hebrew.) The array of ritual foods and ancient prayers can be baffling for a newcomer. Also, the question arises: “What does one talk about at a Seder?” As a service to our readers, we supply a series of surefire conversation-starters. [We recommend that you clip this list and carry it with you to the Passover feast.-Editor]

1) What is your favorite matzoh?

2) Which do you prefer: hamentaschen or macaroons?

3) Why did Mr. Manischewitz begin making wine?

4) What are the Ten Plagues in your life?

-Sparrow

Bonus Material from the 40th Anniversary Edition DVD

“Then somebody walked in,” Kerik says. “I don’t remember who. In fact, I don’t remember much about that moment other than hearing these words: ‘We have a problem with the domestic. It appears the Social Security number is registered to somebody else.’ Suddenly I could hear my heart pounding in my head,’ Kerik says, ‘and I wanted to take the fucking gun off the desk and shoot him.”

- New York magazine, April 4, 2005

INT. BANK-NIGHT

DAWES, Sr., DAWES, Jr. and DIRECTORS are seated around long mahogany table. BANKS enters, approaches, removes bowler hat.

DAWES, Sr.

Banks, do you have any notion why we have asked you here this evening?

BANKS

Well, sir, I-

DAWES, Sr.

Yes, Banks?

BANKS

I did have some notion that you-

DAWES, Sr.

Go on, Banks.

BANKS

That you might-that I might be considered-that you might be considering me-

DAWES, Sr.

For a promotion, Banks?

BANKS

No, sir-that is to say, yes, sir.

DAWES, Sr.

( looks meaningfully at DIRECTORS, then back at BANKS)

Banks, we’ve had our eye on you for some time. Your habits have been regular, your performance exemplary, your loyalty to the firm unquestioned.

BANKS

Thank you, sir. Thank you very much indeed.

DAWES, Sr.

Therefore, Banks, we have indeed been considering you for a position of great responsibility: to wit, Banks, the position of-

( coughs, wheezes. DAWES, Jr. slaps him on back)

-Director of Homeland Securities.

BANKS

Why, Mr. Dawes, sir, I am most gratified-

DAWES, Sr.

Not so fast, Banks. Not so fast.

BANKS

Sir?

DAWES, Sr.

Over the course of this week, Banks, certain facts have been brought to our attention.

BANKS

Facts, sir?

DAWES, Sr.

Certain allegations, Banks. We have been informed that, for the past six months, you have had in your employ a nanny who is not a legal resident of this scepter’d isle. Who is present in England’s green and, and-

DAWES, Jr.

Pleasant, father.

DAWES, Sr.

-and pleasant land without the knowledge or leave of the relevant authorities.

BANKS is astonished. Looks about at DIRECTORS; they are stony-faced. He gathers himself together.

BANKS

With all due respect, sir, the charge is perfect poppycock. Miss Poppins-Mary Poppins is her name-Miss Poppins is as British as, as tea and crumpets! As boiled baby and spotted dick! Why-she is as British as bad teeth!

PAN across faces of DAWES, Sr. and DIRECTORS, each with identical, dentally lamentable forced smile, or rather grimace.

BANKS

Excuse me, sir, I did not intend-

DAWES, Sr.

Never mind, Banks.

BANKS

Indeed, sir, I most expressly advertised in The Times for a British nanny. I remember the precise words I employed.

( begins to sing)

A British nanny must be a general! The future empire lies within her hands! And so-

DAWES, Sr.

That will do, Banks.

BANKS

I am very sorry, sir.

DAWES, Sr.

Banks, we would all very much like to believe your-

(coughs, wheezes. DAWES, Jr. strikes him on the back, twice)

-your song and dance-

(looks expectantly at DIRECTORS, who look blank; then, as one, they break into uproarious laughter)

-if I may use that expression. But the evidence contradicts it.

BANKS

Evidence, sir?

DAWES, Sr. waves his hand;

DAWES, Jr. empties contents of large briefcase onto table.

DAWES, Sr.

You see before you the sworn affidavits of 17 nannies-British nannies, Banks-who were turned away from your door.

BANKS

Turned away?

DAWES, Sr.

Blown away, to be exact. By a gust of wind of dubious meteorological origin. A gust produced, they allege, by a wind machine supplied by an American manufacturer.

BANKS

Wind machine! Sir, this is prepos-

DAWES, Sr.

They further allege that, as they took their involuntary leave, they witnessed the said Poppins descending from the sky, attached to-

(coughs, wheezes. DAWES, Jr. strikes him on the back with an umbrella)

-an umbrella, in a transparent effort to enter Albion without the notice of customs and immigration officers.

BANKS

Of all the-

DAWES, Sr.

Moreover, Banks, we have made inquiries of the Home Office, Scotland Yard and all other relevant bodies, and not one, Banks, not one man jack of them-

(coughs, wheezes. DAWES, Jr. breaks chair over his head)

-is able to find any record of a Mary Poppins having been born, naturalized, christened, baptized, confirmed, registered, matriculated, schooled, graduated, betrothed, wedded, divorced, impressed, impounded, interred-

(moves mouth as if chewing, no sound emerges; resumes)

-arrested, incarcerated, legally employed-

(looks meaningfully at Banks)

-entered upon the tax rolls or poor rolls, or otherwise brought to the attention of His Majesty’s government or that of any parish, village, city, bailiwick, shire or other jurisdiction in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, or the Isles of Guernsey, Jersey, Man or Wight.

BANKS

But surely-

DAWES, Sr.

If this were not enough, we have received intelligence from an extremely well-placed source that, in her entry from the upper atmosphere, the said Poppins spirited into the country a number of contraband items, among them a floor lamp, a coat tree, a full-length mirror and a house plant of exotic species, in a carpetbag with a false bottom. It is further alleged-

(wheezes)

-by the same well-situated witnesses, that the said Poppins lately traveled to a foreign country and back again to this blessed plot, this realm, this England, by means -

(coughs, wheezes. DAWES, Jr. gestures toward ceiling; large bank safe is lowered on winch to position roughly five feet above DAWES, Sr.’s head, then released)

-of a secret underground passage, its entrance cunningly marked with a chalk drawing upon the pavement, once again eluding customs and immigration authorities.

BANKS

Chalk drawing! Secret passage! Surely, sir, you cannot-

DAWES, Sr.

Silence, Banks! That the country to which she traveled was not within the borders of the United Kingdom is established beyond doubt by such particulars as penguins waiting on tables, carousel horses taking part in a fox hunt and, most conclusive of all-

(pauses for effect)

- a sky almost entirely devoid of clouds.

(shocked murmurs from DIRECTORS)

While we cannot be certain of the identity of the country visited, which we presume to be the Poppins woman’s country of origin, a consultation by cable with our various branches overseas leads us to believe that it was the Union of South Africa. We draw this conclusion on the basis of the phrase “super-callused fragile mystic with extra halitosis”-

BANKS

Superca-

DAWES, Sr.

-which we take to be a coded reference to the notorious anarchist and rabble-rouser, Mr. Mohandas K. Gandhi.

BANKS

(seems about to say something, thinks better of it. Then:)

May I ask, sir, what person or persons might be the source of this mendacious, calumnious and patently absurd report?

DAWES, Sr.

You may ask, Banks.

(coughs)

You may well ask.

(wheezes)

Well may you ask. The signatures, Banks, are as plain as the nose on my face.

DAWES, Jr. holds up the document for BANKS’ inspection.

BANKS

(taken aback)

Jane and Michael -

DAWES, Sr.

Banks, Banks ….

BANKS

(with a defeated sigh)

- Banks.

DAWES, Sr.

Banks, do you know when this bank was established?

BANKS

(brightening)

Why, yes, sir. On the third of June, 1723, by Wesley Militant Dawes, your illustrious ancestor, sir.

DAWES, Sr.

That is correct, Banks. From that day to this, the Dawes Tomes Mousely Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank has enjoyed a sterling reputation. Officers of this bank have been found guilty of tax fraud, embezzlement, bribery of high public officials, sodomy, grave robbery-

Head nodding, DAWES, Sr. lapses into muttering, then silence; appears to be dozing.

DAWES, Jr.

Father?

DAWES, Sr.

(wakes with a start)

-sodomy-did I mention sodomy?-grave robbery and war crimes, but not once-not once, Banks, in 187 years-of hiring an illegal nanny.

BANKS is silent, eyes downcast.

DAWES, Sr.

It pains me to do this, Banks, but the reputation of the firm must be placed above-above-

(coughs, wheezes. Coughs again; wheezes again. DAWES, Jr. places tactical nuclear device under DAWES, Sr.’s chair, detonates it)

-private sensibilities. Banks, your umbrella.

DRUM ROLL

-Evan Eisenberg