it was dark when we set out. our destination: a retirement home. our mission: to lead a seder for seven old women and ten old men. we all had ambiguous feelings. my brother told him that earlier in the week his friend said "I'm going to Cancun for pesach" to which my brother had to reply "I'm going to a nursing home!" everyone kept telling us that we'd be back in bed by eleven thirty!
although we were freezing outside, the thermostat was up to at least eighty five degrees. we were hot the second we stepped in the door. we rounded the corner...and sitting there were three old ladies. they hit it off immediately with my mother. we davened maariv and went into the dining room to begin.
earlier my brother had taken a look at the schedule which said: maariv-eight thirty, shulchan orech, nine thirty. we weren't sure how we were going to manage to get through the whole hagaddah in an hour when the night before it took us twenty five minutes from karpas to ma nishtana.
but in the end we didn't have to worry about the time. we only sat down at nine thirty. the only sort of time constraint we had was the that the shabbos mode in the elevator shut off at twelve and some of the women lived on other floors. but the seder proceeded smoothly. my little brother said ma nishtana and we kept them entertained with our family's favorite pesach songs.
one little old lady at the end of the table didn't open her mouth the whole time. but as soon as she saw our hand matzah she started talking about her grandfather, and how he only ate the round matzah, and she used to go with her father all the way to Brooklyn to bring back boxes and boxes of that matzah to new jersey where she lived.
another women took a special liking to my older sister because they have the same name. she informed my sister that she had something in common with a piano-she was eighty eight years old. and she was flabbergasted when she heard my sister was twenty-one. she called the waiters "honey" and "dear" and informed them they shouldn't be serving cabbage so late at night, especially to someone as young as her.
at one point during the seder a bunch of EMT's rushed passed, wheeling an empty stretcher. a bunch of the women perked up, and one muttered to herself "ach i vonder who zat is for..."
even the waiters got into the holiday spirit. at the end of nirtzah when we sing 'echad mi yodea' we always end off with a round of 'one is hashem' in English. as they were cleaning up i heard one of them singing "one is hashem, one is hashem, one is hashem..." under his breath.
we finished at ten to twelve, and all the old people made it up to their rooms safely, after eliciting promises from my mother that we would come and visit soon.
on the whole, it was an interesting experience, and it looks like my family will be repeating it again next year.