Saturday, April 16, 2005

From "My Seder with Brando"

I will never forget the sight of our table in the synagogue, Marlon Brando was to my left and sitting next to him was his guest. This was during the height of Marlon's involvement with Native American causes and he had brought with him noted Indian activist Dennis Banks of Wounded Knee fame. Banks was dressed in full Indian regalia: buckskin tassles on his clothes and long braids hanging down from a headband, which sported a feather. My childhood friend Bob Dylan sat to my right, joined by his wife, my sister Sharon, and other friends.

At first the seder progressed normally without anyone in the temple noticing anything out of the ordinary. After about forty-five minutes, the rabbi figured out that ours was not your average seder table. "Mr. Brando, would you please do us the honor of reading the next passage from the hagaddah," he said. Marlon said, "It would be my pleasure."

He smiled broadly, stood up and delivered the passage from the hagaddah as if he were reading Shakespeare on Broadway. Mouths fell open and eyes focused on the speaker with an intensity any rabbi would covet. When he was done I think people actually paused, wondering if they should applaud.

Somewhat later the rabbi approached another member of our table.

"Mr. Dylan, would you do us the honor of singing us a song?" The rabbi pulled out an acoustic guitar. I thought he would politely decline. Much to my surprise Bob said yes and performed an impromptu rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind" to the stunned shul of about 300 seder guests. The incongruity of a seder, with Marlon Brando reading the hagaddah followed by a Bob Dylan serenade, would have made for a good Fellini movie. Needless to say, everyone was both shocked and thrilled by this unusual Hollywood-style Passover miracle. The entire shul came by to shake both Marlon and Bob's hands and they actually paused and spent time with everyone.
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