Family traditions

The Seders are over. Our guests have gone home. Yes, I was left bone tired.

My mother's mother was a famously terrible cook. My mother, thank goodness didn't learn how to cook from her mother, but from the excellent Lithuanian cooks in Halifax. So the holiday foods we eat come from the culinary traditions of other families.

Other Passover traditons come from my family. My mother's father used to sing the entire Haggadah with a truly lovely nusach, or melodic mode. Often these sorts of religious traditions are assumed to be transmitted through the male line. But in my family, my father quickly adopted this lovely tradition. So my sisters and I grew up using the sweet nusach that underlines the meaning of the text and gets so much of it embedded in our heads. My husband and my children now sing the seder in my grandfather's nusach.

My aunt introduced this nusach to her husband as well. Her grandson joined us for seder singing in the same mode, passed on to him by his mother.  My older son was in Israel, chanting the  haggadah, with his cousins with this very same nusach. A living example of family religious tradition, as opposed to culinary tradition,  passed on by women.

I think that it is easy to assume that religious traditions are passed through the males of the family, passed from father to son. But this  nusach is a tradition that is just so good, that it was taken on by the men who married in to the family.


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