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For Passover, Jews are off to see the Wizard

Admittedly, this Passover seder is more corny than kosher. But the message comes straight from scripture.

Passover starts at sundown Monday, sending Jewish families everywhere to dinner tables filled with matzo, wine and other foods commemorating the exodus from slavery in Egypt.

On the second night, many here will head to the Greater Seder, an intentionally un-seder event at the Rusty Pelican restaurant in Tampa.

Real-estate agent Rande Friedman came up with the idea six years ago to bring together Jews who wouldn't otherwise attend a seder. He wanted to incorporate music and comedy into the traditional dinner ceremony. This year's show: The Wizard of Shnozz.

Yes, queue up the bad jokes and Jewish stereotypes. In this version, the yellow brick road is made of matzo and the munchkins are ''mensch''kins — Hebrew for good people. And Dorothy's dog, Toto? Say hello to Todah, the word for thank you.

A group of about 20 people, many from Schaarai Zedek synagogue in South Tampa, spent months developing and rehearsing the hourlong show. In the end, they hope it entertains and educates, and encourages people to delve deeper in their faith. Here's a taste of a real Passover seder and the Shnozz's Wizard of Oz twist.

Seder: The ritual feast marks the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday. Central to the meal is matzo, cracker-like, unleavened bread. The Bible says the slaves left Egypt in such a hurry they didn't have time to wait for their bread dough to rise. Matzo brei, pronounced brye, is a common Passover breakfast dish.

Shnozz: Dorothy plays Moses, who leads her people — the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion — to the Promised Land along the matzo brei road.

Seder: The Bible says God helped the Jews escape slavery by inflicting 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, including locusts, skin boils and hailstorms.

Shnozz: Walking through the forest to the Emerald City, Dorothy sings "locusts and boils and hail, oy vey!''

Seder: During the meal, a piece of matzo is broken in half, the larger piece becoming what's called the afikoman. The head of the household typically hides the afikoman for the children and whoever finds it gets a toy. The afikoman is eaten for dessert to leave the taste of matzo in their mouths.

Shnozz: In the play, the scarecrow guards a matzo field owned by a guy named Afi. A flying monkey swoops down to take a piece of matzo and, in a struggle with the scarecrow, breaks off half and flies away with it.

Seder: As part of the reading of the Haggadah, the Passover book, the youngest person at the table asks four questions, among them "Why are we reclining?'' and "Why do we eat bitter herbs?'' The reclining question refers to freed Jews finally being able to relax. The bitter herbs remind them of their bitter past when they had to build pyramids for the Pharaoh.

Shnozz: At the beginning, a pyramid lands on the Wicked Witch of the Middle East. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West Bank, says she, in turn, became the new Pharaoh and inherited the slaves. Someone asks a menschkin named Herb why he's so bitter and he says it's because he is still a slave. Later, the Lion asks, "We've been walking so long, I have to lean, I'm exhausted. Where's a tree to lean on?''

Seder: Guests sip four glasses of wine during the seder to represent God's promises of deliverance.

Shnozz: During the show, glasses are raised when the pyramid lands on the witch and the menschkins break out in "Oy vey, the kvetch is dead!'' Later, in absence of an oil can to loosen up the Tin Man, Dorothy gives him a glass of wine to get him talking.

The Wizard of Shnozz

The Greater Seder presents The Wizard of Shnozz at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Rusty Pelican, 2425 N Rocky Point Drive, Tampa. 21 and older. Tickets start $45. Go to or call (813) 943-2677.

For Passover, Jews are off to see the Wizard 04/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 4:03pm]
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