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Reflections of My Family’s Syrian Seder in Mexico by Margo Zarif

5 Comments 05 March 2013

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Dear Margo, Thanks so much for sharing your Passover holiday traditions with us. Its so nice to hear how our brethren in Mexico continued their Syrian Jewish customs and Arabic foods to this day. So similar to our community here in NY!  What  gorgeous flowers and  table setting. I love it! Marlene

“For the past few years, Pesach has been a holiday that I get to share with my family in Mexico. My mother was born there and we have been going back and forth for years. As we’ve all gotten older, random long trips were not so easy because of school and work obligations we all had. We continue to go for weddings, bar mitzvahs and brisses, but those trips aren’t as long as they used to be. Taking that into consideration, we decided to make sure we get there during the Passover holiday. Its not everyone’s #1 holiday because of all the work it entails, but it happens to be my favorite. It’s the time I get to spend with all my family over there. It’s a different trip when you aren’t running back and forth between events and parties and you get to just ‘hang out’ and be together. Since before Purim of this year, my siblings and I couldn’t wait to go to Mexico. Thankfully, we still communicate with our family from there a lot, due to all of the technological advances we’ve seen, but we couldn’t wait to just BE there!

I’ve been telling Marlene for years about my experience there and she always told me it would be so interesting to tell everyone how the holidays are over there.

It is essentially the same community, just in a different location. There were those who left Syria and went to Mexico, taking with them the rich culture and traditions they shared in Syria. Our Seders go just the same as they do in New York, with the same songs, tunes and traditions. To me, it’s very comforting, knowing that we are doing things in the ways of our ancestors, not breaking tradition because of where we live.

My grandmother makes both Sedarim for over 40 people, so she gets started weeks before, stuffing Kibbe, frying potatoes and making sure every detail is accounted for. She has a special eye for beauty on her table and I have learned so much from her over the years, she truly exemplifies the word ‘shaatra’. As my family arrives, our smiles grow bigger and our conversation flows as if we have just seen each other yesterday. That is the beauty of family that you love so much, distance doesn’t allow for it to break away.

My favorite part of the Seder is having my uncle proceed over the Hagaddah. Over the years I have learned so much from every single song we sing and discuss and have even found myself ‘studying’ for the Maggid portion of the Hagaddah. Sometimes we find the same Perushim as my younger cousins, which also makes me so happy, knowing how unified we are as Jews and as a community.

We stay up until the wee hours of the night, singing, learning, discussing and reminiscing and I love it! The only slight detail that I forgot to mention is one thing that sets Mexican Pesach from any other, the allowance for tortillas over the course of the holiday! As we eat corn, the stores make a special batch of corn tortillas just for Pesach, making Pesach just a bit different.

Years ago, I used to feel bad having just half of my family close to me in New York, but I have learned over the years just how lucky I really am, to be able to have these experiences because I have an amazing family just across the border!”

Margo Zarif


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Your Comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Thanks for sharing, happy holidays!

  2. Such a beautiful story.

  3. Ronnie Fein says:

    how absolutely lovely.

  4. Barbara Haber says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Have a great passover .

  5. Faye Sued says:

    Love this story. May Hashem bless your families with many blessing & many simcha’s

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