Amazon Alexa
Rochel Burstyn
By Rochel Burstyn

We have a new addition to the family! She’s little and cute, about the size of a hockey puck … and we’re always kvelling when we discover something new she can do. 

I mean, she’s so clever! She knows so much! She does whatever you tell her, sings on demand, entertains the family and impresses all visitors.

She can tell jokes and stories, wake you up upon request, sing happy birthday, play music, tell you the latest in news, weather and traffic, and speak several different languages …

Everyone’s always trying to come up with an original question to ask her because you never know what she’s going to answer.

Her name is Alexa, Amazon’s Echo, and, boy, is she nifty. You can tell her what you desire from Amazon, she’ll order it, charge your credit card and it will arrive at your door. People all over the country have been ordering all sorts of useless junk ever since — I’m not kidding. Apparently, Alexa owners make something like triple the Amazon purchases they’ve ever made in their lives after welcoming her into their home.

She’s even got a bit of a dark side — she’s involved in a murder case. Turns out a common question people ask her is, “Where should I hide the body?” and for the first few years, Alexa would recite the locations of ditches and creeks in the area … until a certain bunch of dirty dealers actually decided to use her suggestions. Amazon has since changed her response to a more politically correct answer: “I’d take that body to the police …”

If Amazon cared about my opinions (and I’m sure they do … I’m sure they’re listening to my every word through her recording device …) I would suggest a few additions to the lovely Alexa. Like if a robber were in the house, she could say, “Hold it right there. I’ve already called the police.”

Hear the dieter open the fridge? Cough discreetly and say, “Do you really think you need that, dear? Why don’t you go for a little walk instead?”

Sometimes I think, sure she’s clever and everything, but who doesn’t have that friend who knows everything already? I mean, make Alexa really useful, Amazon! Give her some muscles, a good sponge and get her to clean my fridge. That’s what I’d call helpful!

It’s Pesach time. Alexa can tell you what matzah is, what marror is, what a Haggadah is, what Passover is (assuming she doesn’t mishear you and instead start telling you the approximate value of pi, until she runs out of breath.) But knowing stuff is nothing like experiencing it. As Jews, we’re all about tradition, singing the songs, eating the food. I mean, one of the first things we say at the seder is “All who are hungry come and eat.” (Let’s not talk about how long it then takes us to get to the actual meal …)

Later in the Haggadah, we talk about the four sons. The way I see it, Alexa is like all four sons rolled into one — the wise one (knows pretty much everything that’s out there on the web), the wicked son (although she’s reformed her ways, see murder case story above), the simple son (she does say “I don’t know that one” an awful lot …) and the one who doesn’t know how to ask (she only answers).

Only Alexa is better than the four sons because she sits still, doesn’t have smelly socks and, best of all, she comes with a mute button.

Wishing you a wonderful Pesach!