1) My informant for this ritualistic folklore was my grandmother, Sylvia. She was born and raised Jewish, her maiden name being Gelwasser, and discussed with me her family ritual of Passover. She stated that “for as long as I can remember, we’ve always celebrated Passover. For the most part, we’ve always celebrated it the same way”. She says that Passover is the celebration of the Jewish people escaping the wrath of the Egyptian Pharaoh in the time of Moses. She discussed that she remembered that as a child, growing up in New York, she would attend temple in the evening and head to her grandparents house in the Jewish area of the city where her grandmother had made matzah ball soup and beef brisket for a family dinner. They would follow along an old book, performing prayers and rituals with food, wine, and water that would commemorate the days where the Jews were able to escape Egypt. Her grandparents would hide the Afi-Komen, a special piece of matzah, somewhere around the house, and the child that found it was rewarded with a fifty-cent piece.
She says that now, she performs the same rituals and traditions with her children and grandchildren. She prepares the same meals of matzah ball soup and beef brisket, and the family reads a “very similar” prayer book in the evening. She said “I’m sure that many families have begun to celebrate Passover differently or in a more modern family. But for me, I have taken on the exact role of my grandmother, now that I am a grandmother of my own”.
She says that she thinks the tradition is rooted deep in Jewish history and, fact or not, she believes that the biggest part of the tradition is “to have faith and to bring families and friends together”.
For the most part, I agree with Sylvia in believing that this holiday is about keeping tradition and bringing family closer together. I am impressed that the tradition has managed to stay the same over so many generations in her family, and am curious to see whether that will be the case in the coming generations.