Twenty years ago this month – March 6, 1998, to be exact – The Big Lebowski hit the silver screen, and with it, a cult classic was stamped onto North American pop culture.
Based incredibly loosely on a composite of real characters, it’s mostly the story of a laid-back stoner named Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a kidnapping, a soiled rug, an identity mix-up, and of course his oddball bowling buddies.
The film has spawned an annual celebration of all things Lebowski called Lebowski Fest, and a religion was created called Dudeism – or the Church of the Latter-Day Dudes. Nearly half a million people are now Dudeist priests, worldwide.
It’s not the only time faith has been associated with the film. There is, after all, a character named Jesus (which nobody fugs with), and Lebowski’s pal Walter Sobchak is a practicing Jew who “doesn’t roll on Shabbes”.
Given that Passover begins on Friday, March 30, no doubt the Sobchak character would already be readying for the Passover Seder. (For the uninitiated, the Seder is the hours-long evening festive meal-slash-ceremony commemorating the ancient Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt.)
As an interesting mix of faith and film, perhaps there’s a way to mix devotion to Judaism, with being a devotee to Lebowski-ism, and make a “Sobchak Seder”.
Like Vietnam, there are rules to the Seder. But sometimes, the rules need a little tweaking to abide by the Dude.
Over the course of the Seder, it is customary to have four cups of wine, but in this case, it has to be glasses of White Russians (made with fresh cream).
In the spirit of Sobchak, participants will retell the stories of each plague, but as the personal experiences during his tour of duty in Vietnam: a river turned to blood, swarms of biting insects, days of darkness, and so forth.
The last plague, the death of the firstborn Egyptian male, is symbolized by a tin of Folger’s coffee, once-used to hold their friend Donny’s ashes. This is complemented by the use of Maxwell House Hagadahs (a version of the Seder prayer book published by the coffee company).
Symbolizing the Jewish people’s sorrow in slavery, horseradish is eaten at the Seder, but don’t think about getting it from the jar. Grate those bitter herbs by hand; if you want to enter a world of pain, you ought to do it right.
Instead of saying “Let My People Go”, the chant will be “This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man!” The celebratory songs will be sung to Creedence tunes (but not the Eagles, especially if the Dude is invited.)
Sobchak, naturally, is a Republican supporter. Because: Jerusalem. Plus, he loves his guns. The Second Amendment, man, shall not be infringed. And Sobchak was saying “believe me” long before The Donald.
Therefore, it would stand to reason that he would introduce Trump parallels in the Exodus story. To keep the nieces and nephews (and his ex-wife Cynthia’s kids) entertained during the long, drawn-out ritual, he’ll tell how Pharaoh made slaves build the pyramids – and made the Jews pay for it.
He’ll talk about how Moses was quoted as saying “Make Sinai Great Again.” And he’ll explain how the Golden Calf was a “disaster” that never should have happened (and anything golden should have been in Trump’s abode, anyhow.)
And finally, no Sobchak Seder would be complete without doling out the matzah (the unleavened bread) straight from a bowling ball bag.
If you’ve ever wondered how Joel and Ethan Coen’s masterpiece, The Big Lebowski, could fit into Passover (surely, you have), now you know.