Why is this night different from all other nights?

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mah nish

Monday night is the first night of the Jewish holiday Passover. While many people mark this day as the beginning of the longest 8 days without wheat, to others, March 25th marks the first day of their potentially illustrious singing careers.  What families often fail to realize, amid the frantic cooking and cleaning on the days leading up to the holiday, is that at least one member of the family is quietly anticipating his chance to impress his family through song. To those who are unfamiliar, at one part of the Seder (the ritual dinner for the first two nights of Passover), the youngest child must stand before the table and sing the four questions of Passover. Each verse is a question for how Passover is different from all other nights intended to inspire thought provoking questions throughout the meal.

I was one of those nervous – scratch that – excited children. Though I am a middle child now, there was once a time when I was an 8 year old given the spotlight to sing the fabled questions. I prepared for the big night for weeks by listening to Freddie Mercury for range, Michael Jackson for flair and Nirvana for edginess. I would run into my house after school, put on my headphones, pop in the recording of a couple music videos and begin my training.  By the time the big night came, I had Michael Jackson’s snap and walk down to a tee (1:57 in “Beat it” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRdxUFDoQe0 ), Kurt Cobain’s blank stare from “Smells like Teen Spirit” down cold, and I was sure that Freddie Mercury and I had the same voice. The plan was to step out just before the song began, snap my way into the dining room with nothing but a blank stare, and bust out into a Queen-esque rendition of Mah Nishtanah (the title of the four questions).

It did not go as planned. As I began my saunter into the dining room, my great aunt “unintentionally” pushed her seat back to stand up, thus knocking me off balance into a tray of full wine glasses. My beautiful white shirt was covered in red wine, my blank stare turned into tears, and no one got the chance to hear my angelic voice. By the time I returned with a fresh shirt, they had moved on, and my moment in the spotlight was ruined. As luck would have it, a year later, my younger cousin attended and did her own solo rendition. While, yes, it was a pleasant version (apparently she listened to Celine Dion and Whitney Houston for inspiration), I am positive mine would have been better.

So for all of you parents out there with a young child, make sure you give them their chance to shine (whether it is a solo on Passover or a tiny role on stage during a school play). Bring a spare outfit, ignore their nervous cries, and yell at the teacher if you must, but get those children on stage – they will all appreciate it.

Today’s Poll

Which of these iconic live performances is your favorite?

The Beatles (The Ed Sullivan Show 1964)

Beyonce (2012 Superbowl)

Jimi Hendrix (Woodstock 1969)

Snoop Dogg and Tupac hologram (Coachella 2012)

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