Nationality: American but Persian
Residence: Beverly Hills
Date of Performance/Collection: April 26, 2020
Primary Language: English
The following is transcribed from text exchanges between my informant, A, and myself, M.
A: On passover, there’s this tradition that Persian Jews have, and somehow only us. There’s this song called Dayenu that you sing as part of the Passover seder, which is like what we call the food and tradition we do.
A: Passover is about Jews being slaves in Egypt and Passover is specifically about when the Jews were freed, and that’s basically the whole thing. But this song is part of it, and its about thanking God for each specific thing He did in the story. And for Persian Jews, while we sing the song we hit each other with green onions because they symbolize the whips from slavemasters. We get pretty agressive, and it looks really stupid.
M: Why just Persians?
A: I don’t know how it started or why it never made it to any other ethnic Jewish group. I didn’t even know it was a Persian thing until like late into my life, so when I talked about it with my white friends, they thought I was insane.
She later texted me that her parents told her Italian Jews do it as well.
Background: My friend is Persian Jewish from Beverly Hills. Judaism has played a large role in her life, having gone to Jewish high school and been an active participant in the community since birth.
Context: She and I were texting casually, and I asked if I could collect from her.
Food is a way of communicating, and from what I have learned about the Passover ritual is that it is a very active one, almost like a play. Also that food is heavily involved. I am left curious as to why Persians specifically do this part.