Friends from my congregation invited me to their chavurah's seder Monday night. There were about 50 people there (largest group they've ever had). I hadn't known in advance that my friend would be leading it, so that was a nice touch. It was a warm, friendly seder, complete enough to be satisfying and expedient enough that the kids present weren't getting too antsy. There wasn't as much singing as I'd expected, but what there was was enthusiastic. It was a good experience.
New insight (reported by my friend, attributed to Rabbi Symons): we can view the four sons as the filling-out of a matrix (ok, he didn't say matrix) of wisdom and piety. The quiet son has neither. The simple one has piety but not wisdom. The rasha (evil son) has wisdom and no piety (he uses his wisdom to rebel). The wise son has both. The rabbis tend to do this sort of 2x2 mapping of attributes to types of Jews, so this is in that spirit.
For the first time (or maybe second?) our congregation offered to match people looking for seders with people who could take guests. (Before that everyone asked the rabbi, I think.) Matching for the first night was very successful. I requested a seder for the second night but it didn't happen -- but I didn't know that early enough to do something about it. So sigh. A second seder isn't necessary for me, but it's nice to do if I can, particularly if it's different in some way from the first. Someone asked on a mailing list tonight why Reform Jews would have second-night seders; what I wrote was: the first seder is to fulfill external obligations -- to God, to family, to those who can't/won't handle some of the content, etc.; the second seder is to fulfill internal obligations -- study, spiritual growth, etc. So next time I'm at home for Pesach I plan to hold my own second-night seder; it sounds like enough of my friends don't go to one regularly that they'd possibly be available to come to mine. (Whether they'd want to come is an open question, but it can't be answered now anyway so why worry?) I think next year we're going to Toronto, though, so probably not for two years.
Morning services on Tuesday went well. The crowd was smaller than it will be next week (seventh day) for Yizkor. Usually my rabbi asks me to read part of the holiday megillah (Song of Songs, for Pesach); I'm lousy at reading poetry, particularly translated poetry, so I'm glad he asked others to do so instead. (I'm always happy to read from Ruth or Kohelet.) Instead he gave me an aliya, which was nice -- I so rarely get to hear my Hebrew name used!
Foodies: my favorite brisket is made in a pan on the stove in tomato sauce and spices. (Simmer two hours, slice thinly against grain, simmer two more hours.) I don't have a suitable kosher-for-Pesach pan. Google suggests that I can cook a brisket in sauce in the oven to good effect; I would welcome specific suggestions that work well for you. The oven-cooked briskets I've had have been closer to the "roast + gravy" model than the "barbecue beef" model -- also good, but not the effect I'm looking for this time.
Omer: day 2. Haven't forgotten yet. :-)