Pesach Traditions

Wally Levitt4.11.22


Do you serve hard-boiled eggs or potatoes (or both) during karpas?

Do the kids or the adults hide the afikomen?

When making matza brei, are you a 2-eggs-to-1-piece-of-matza or a 1-egg-to-2-pieces-of-matza family?

I love that every family has its own special Passover traditions.

Growing up, my favorite tradition involved my maternal grandfather’s reading of the maggid. It’s perhaps less a tradition than a cherished memory. My grandfather David Felberg z”l had attended cheder as a child in Romania and became a staunch secular Jew when he immigrated to Canada. But every year, he would use the seder as his annual reminder of his deep religious knowledge. He’d start reading avadim hayinu out loud, then quickly devolve into an incomprehensible mumble as he made his way through the following paragraphs, barely indicating that he was actually reading the words. Then, about 20 seconds in, he would stop… look up….and proudly declare, “I understand every single word.”

Jonah, Ben & Talia Levitt way back when at their school "Model Seders."
Jonah, Ben & Talia Levitt way back when at their school “Model Seders.”

Like all young couples, when Beth and I first got married we had to merge our distinct family Pesach traditions, which usually meant me agreeing to hers (for the record, I still believe it should be 2-eggs-to-1-matza, but I digress). When our kids were young and we started hosting our own seders, many of our new family traditions stemmed from what they were learning in Jewish day school and often involved new tunes and hand motions for time-honored Pesach classics. Spending several seders with family in Israel meant more new traditions, including throwing marshmallows across the table whenever someone asks a good question. I still love that one.

Levitt Family at Ramah Ojai
The Gamulka/Levitt family at Ramah California for Passover in 2017 – they tried to get to Ramah Darom but it was sold out!

Since 2019 (with the exception of 2020 because, well, you know…) our new family tradition is spending Pesach in the North Georgia Mountains. There’s nothing quite like the Passover Retreat at Ramah Darom. It’s ten exceptional days of learning with a faculty of brilliant Rabbis, hearing inspiring speakers, singing along with world-renowned musicians, and surrounded by fresh mountain air and a warm and welcoming community of over 400 from around the world. And oh yeah – the food. There is lots and lots and lots of delicious food. For many extended families, being together at Ramah Darom IS their Pesach tradition.

Wally enjoying Passover 2021 at Ramah Darom.

We’re excited to be back together with our amazing Pesach community in Clayton later this week. We look forward to reconnecting with long-time guests and getting to know all our new families. For Beth and me, while our two college-aged kids, unfortunately, won’t be able to make the trip, we’re delighted to be joined by our son Jonah who just moved to Tel Aviv, his girlfriend Lara, who is studying at JTS, and by my mother-in-law, Ala who we know will quickly become an annual fixture at Ramah Darom.

Wherever you’re spending Passover, all of us at Ramah Darom wish you a Chag Kasher V’Sameach – a Happy and Kosher Pesach.

And of course, Bashana Haba’ah b’Clayton, Georgia! (Next Year in Clayton, Georgia!)