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Magical Cup Invites Elijah to Your Seder

Each year at Passover time, my goal is to learn something that I didn’t know before and pass that new tradition on to my children so that they better understand their own heritage. In other words, I want them to appreciate who they are and where they’ve come from as Jews. After all, “Whoever expands on the Passover telling is to be praised,” said the Jewish sages, and I need all the accolades that I can get.

Last year, for example, I tried out a new Haggadah called “The “30-Minute Seder,” which “blends brevity with tradition,” and it was a big hit because the vivid illustrations and simplified text were easy to follow, yet thought-provoking right down to the explanation of the Hillel sandwich, or Korech. Actually, it was a toss up between “30-Minute Seder” and another child-friendly Haggadah that can be personalized with my name on the cover, such as, “Ellie’s Haggadah,” and is available as a temple fundraiser through www.Personalized Hagggadahs.com.

On this Festival of Freedom, I’ll try anything, even the bitter herb if I’m hungry enough. One year, I asked everyone at the table to fill the wine cup of the person sitting next to them and taste what it’s like to have their own servant during the multiple-course meal, which is symbolic of Egyptian royalty. Fortunately, I served white wine so that my sweater wasn’t stained when Sari spilled kosher sauvignon blanc all over me. We also reclined on pillows, and, needless to say, I was ready for a nap by the time we sang Dayenu.

After all, the Passover seder isn’t about telling the story of the Exodus; it’s about experiencing the time when the Jews were salves, so that’s why I force my children to help me with the Spring cleaning and remove all chametz from our home by candlelight and a feather duster.

When I was young, one of my favorite parts of the seder was waiting for mysterious Elijah, the Hebrew prophet who opposed the worship of idols. The Hebrew name “Eliyahu,” by the way, means the Lord is my God, and according to tradition, Elijah came from a family of shepherds and lived in a cave on Mount Carmel in the 9th century B.C.E. during the reign of King Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel.

As a youngster during the seder, I would stare at the open door and wait for Elijah to come inside the house and announce the Messiah and drink from the fifth cup of wine, or at least sip the matzah ball soup. It never happened, until this year.

A newly invented cup that makes the wine disappear before everyone’s eyes might sound a little corny, but it certainly grabs the attention of children and adults alike. In fact, not since I used red food coloring to make the waters of the Nile turn into blood as a demonstration of the first plague did a prank make a good point.

The magical contraption, which looks like a traditional wine-filled goblet with a beautiful engraving of a Star of David and the name “Eliyahu” in Hebrew, is called the ElijahDrinks cup and is the greatest thing since chocolate chip macaroons. This real conversation piece is the brainchild of Marc Jaffe, a comedy writer turned entrepreneur, who used to write for the popular television sitcoms Seinfeld and Mad About You. Now Jaffe is the funnyman making headlines with his seder schtick. Jaffe wanted to reenact the arrival of Elijah with a little more drama than shaking the dinner table. So he and his sidekick, fellow comedian and magician Kerry Pollock came up with a plan. After nine months of testing the product and a lot of brachah (blessing) over each cup, here’s how it works:

The host of the seder lifts up the shiny sturdy aluminum cup to say the prayer, and then sets it back down on the table, depressing a plunger button at the bottom to slowly empty the wine into a secret compartment. Is that cool or what?

“I love demonstrating the cup because it gets such a wonderful response. Adults laugh and kids eyes go wide in amazement. Just had a customer today who was so excited for the Seder to do this for his grandkids. That’s typical. People wonder why they didn’t think of it. And, a nice thing is getting a positive reaction across all segments of the Jewish community,” says Jaffe, who is also the author of the 2000 humor/health book “Sleeping With Your Gynecologist” (that would be his wife, and they live in Ohio with their three teenage daughters).

“The promise of Elijah coming keeps kids involved and brings them back to the Seder. Depending on their age, they may ask some real questions about Elijah thus providing what the Seder is all about—a learning opportunity,” adds Jaffe, who is currently working on prototypes for an afikomin detector and insta-fold tallis.

To see a demonstration of ElijahDrinks cup on YouTube, visit Jaffe’s website www.elijahdrinks.com. The cup is normally $39.95, but is discounted 25 percent after Passover until April 30, and can be a part of your seder…next year in Jerusalem.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is enjoying the satire song, “Manischewitzville,” which is the Passover rendition of “Margaritaville,” only instead of searching for a lost shaker of salt it’s a last crumb of chametz. Visit her website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.