Two years ago, Morgan Friedman decided to translate the Passover Haggadah into Argentinean slang — just for kicks. “All my friends loved it; they thought it was the funniest thing ever,” says Friedman, an entrepreneur from Great Neck who divides his time between the Upper East Side and Argentina.
Friedman is the founder of OverheardinNewYork.com, a blog that features snippets of conversations that range from humorous to absurd. Both projects make use of his “love of just listening to how people talk.”
The Haggadah written in slang became a small phenomenon in Buenos Aires. “It’s easy to forget that the Bible was written in street language,” he says, a reference to the fact that scholars believe that the Bible’s language reflected the vernacular of the times.
Soon, with the help of the collective power of the Internet, Friedman hopes to translate the siddur into slang as part of his UrbanSeder.com project. He also hopes to create an American slang version of the Haggadah.
In the prototype UrbanHaggadah, the Four Sons are described as “the Nerd, the Jack***, the Hick, and the Rugrat.” You must answer the nerd, “explaining to him the traditions, including the Afikoman, despite the fact that this will delay the Seder for even longer and you just want to finish it quickly and eat,” the UrbanHaggadah says. You give the Rugrat Gefilte Fish and “stuff him with lots of breadless food.” You summarize the seder for the hick in three memorable sentences: “They tried to kill us; we won; let’s eat!” And what you tell the Jack*** is unprintable.
Friedman plans to have the UrbanHaggadah completed in time for next Passover. “It can be used as a mechanism to get lots of people interested in Judaism,” he says.