When I was in graduate school, I was very involved with GAP (the graduate student and young professionals affiliate of Hillel) and as such, was asked to lead the first ever GAP Sedar at Hillel. This seemed like a good idea as I was involved and could get people to attend our second night sedar at Hillel by leading. That is, until the only date available for a major ankle surgery was the day before Pesach began.
Having spent time and energy recruiting people to attend, it was important that I still uphold my end of the agreement and lead the sedar. I was convinced that being graduate students we’d have some other people who could help guide it along if I faltered. I did not expect that most of the people who could do so would be attending the traditional sedar in the basement. Even when I realized this, I assumed that with my fairly high pain tolerance and aversion to taking pain medications, I’d be able to hold my own enough.
I thought wrong. Very wrong. I had to take medications, elevate my foot with ice on it, and try to project my drowsy voice to a group of nearly 30 graduate students who were mostly there to see their friends and have a Pesach meal. Few people were able to help with leading the sedar and the logistics of the numerous sedars occurring simultaneously made for quite an interesting balancing act. I recall that at some point I turned to my mother, who had come in to help me out with balancing school and recovery (and living in a second story walk up apartment while I was not allowed to bear any weight for a month), and said “I give up.” She gave me a slight smile of understanding and that was pretty much the end of my night.
My mom stepped up to help where she could and I wrangled in a Hillel staff member to provide some back up support, but any semblance of focus or order was long lost by that point. Though, there was a rally towards the end of the night as the search for the afikomen began and ended with a very triumphant find – the redeeming moment for many guests. (I think they would have related to this post from MyJewishLearning, actually.) We decided to recline in our chairs, enjoy the food and company, and have an unforgettable Sedar experience – that we hope never to repeat again.
Lesson learned: Do not lead a Sedar for a group of graduate students less than 48 hours after surgery. 🙂