Sephardic Jewish Seder

“So back in the day, the Jews were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh’s authority. Pharaoh made them build pyramids and would whip the Jews with whips. During Seder, we attack/smack each other with onions to remind us of the horrors the Jews had to face. My family is crazy though and buys leeks instead of onions and we freeze them so it hurts more when we beat each other hahaha. I’ve been doing it my whole life, ever since I remember. I like it because its fun but I hate it when it hurts hahaha (my cousins really hit me hard). I don’t feel an emotional attachment hahaha but it makes the holiday a little more real which is really the main purpose”

This is one of my favorite folk items because it shows the diversity that can occur within a major folk group, in this case the Jewish people. Within the Jewish community there considered to be two major groups of Jews, Sephardic and Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi describes those who have ancestors in Eastern Europe, and Sephardic describes those who have ancestors from Iran, Iraq, and all middle east countries, and since the actual word means “Spanish” I will assume that it describes those who were kicked out during the Spanish Inquisition time. When it comes to Passover, the differences between both groups are very visible. Each has their own Passover Seder traditions, this being one of the Sephardic ones. From my own knowledge I have heard that Sephardic Jews take celery and slightly beat each other on the back while chanting one of the Passover songs named “Dayenu”. From my conversation with Natalie it seems that her family is very passionate about this very tradition. Perhaps some of her older family members wanted to bring more meaning to the horrors that the Jewish slaves had to face, or perhaps they are all much more amused by the extremeness of their act. From my perspective it seems the Sephardic sect, during Passover, is much more intent on reenacting and experiencing the same experiences felt by Jews during those years in Slavery. I say this because I know another Sephardic tradition that does not exist in Ashkenazi Passover is to reenact the story of Moses taking the slaves out of Egypt from the burning bush to the crossing of the desert. However, although both groups are very separate, and perhaps for some there is sometimes a slight animosity between the two groups in Israel, I find that outside Israel the two groups have been combined when it comes to Passover and each family decides its own traditions according to its own family members which may involve both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish people.