Passover Memories

[Editor’s Note: The holidays aren’t upon us right now, so why would we ask a guest to blog about a holiday? Because many of you are going to be seeing family over the summer. This is a great time to ask relatives about your holiday traditions and those of your ancestors. Thanks to genealogist and author Jennifer Alford of Jenealogy and The In-Depth Genealogist for sharing about her family’s Passover traditions.] 

 

How do you mark the holidays that are important in your family?  Growing up I found that we did things a little different than most.  My mom is Jewish and my dad’s side is Catholic.  I grew up with both sets of holidays and connected to them in a way that was more historical than religious.  Sitting at the dinner table celebrating Passover has become one of those enduring memories that I want to pass on to my own future children.

Over the years, the Passover Seder has had an increasing meaning for me.  Part of that is due to the fact that I do not get home to spend time with my family as much as I would like.  Since starting my genealogy research I have an increased appreciation for how the Jewish people have survived and held onto their beliefs.  I have a lot of respect for those with strong beliefs- whatever they may be.  I always marked the time of year by the television showing of “The Ten Commandments” and the story of the Jews escaping Egypt.  There is nothing like Charlton Heston, as Moses, declaring, “Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel: Let my people go.”  My friends celebrated Easter while many Jews were planning their Passover Seder.

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Anyway, for those not familiar with Passover (or Pesach) I thought I’d share some of the things that my family and I do when we celebrate.  I can’t speak for all Jews (and wouldn’t want to!), but I really love the time we have together as a family.  A few years ago I found some hilarious finger puppets to use in the telling of the story of Passover.  Check them out in the pictures below.

Mom always makes a great spread with all the representative foods used during the night.  She has spent a lot of time putting together a special series of readings from several different Haggadahs.  We all take turns reading from the books and say the blessings for the wine with Mom’s guidance.  She grew up attending the synagogue regularly and was active in the youth activities there.  Though I started off going to a Hebrew Day School; I did not stick with it and lost a lot of what I had learned then.

 

During the dinner we talk about the 2011Passover01symbolism of the various foods on the Seder plate.  Greens (Karpas) represent the initial flourishing of the Jews in Egypt.  The salt water represents the tears shed by the Jews.  Haroset is a mix of fruit, nuts, and wine and represents the mortar used to build the pyramid.  Bitter Herbs (usually horseradish is used) allow us to taste the bitterness of slavery.  The lamb shank bone represents the sacrifice of a lamb made at the Temple for a special Passover offering.  The egg shows the circle of life.

2011Passover04The youngest child in our family, Kait, asks the four questions and notes what is different about the night’s celebration.

  1. On all other nights we eat bread or matzo, while on this night we eat only matzo.
  2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables and herbs, but on this night we have to eat bitter herbs.
  3. On all other nights we don’t dip our vegetables in salt water, but on this night we dip them twice.
  4. On all other nights we eat while sitting upright, but on this night we eat reclining.

 

There is always an extra place setting for Elijah and the door is kept open in case he should appear.  (Yes, that’s right, the Jews are still waiting for their Messiah.)

As we tell the story of the Exodus we talk about the ten plagues that occurred.  The ten plagues brought on Egypt were:jennysad

  1. Water to Blood;
  2. Frogs;
  3. Gnats or Lice;
  4. Livestock Diseased/ Cattle Plague;
  5. Flies;
  6. Boils;
  7. Thunder and Hail;
  8. Locusts;
  9. Darkness;
  10. and Death of the Firstborn.

 

By the time we’ve made it through all the stories, reflections, and blessings we are usually so full that we hardly make a dent on the delicious meal that Mom has made.  On the bright side, the leftovers are great!  When I think back to the generations before me I wonder what their Passover Seder’s were like?  I guess I know what I’ll have to ask Mom about next time I’m home!

 

Author Bio:

Jennifer Alford is a freelance writer, artist, and professional genealogist specializing in research in Jewish genealogy and the Midwest states.  As the owner of Jenealogy she creates engaging family history treasures to enhance the bond between generations.  The love of photography, storytelling, and history combine in her blog and unique products.  Jennifer Alford is Publisher of Going In-Depth, The In-Depth Genealogist’s monthly digital magazine.  She is also author of IDG’s Monthly column, Jewish Genealogy.

 

 

Start With the Oldest

[Editor’s Note: Join us each month as master storyteller Kim Weitkamp shares her best tips for capturing your family stories. Be sure to visit Kim’s website: www.kimweitkamp.com]

 

I love to tell stories. So much so, that I do it for a living.

As a professional storyteller, it is one of my greatest joys to gather new stories from my family. I interview my mom and dad about once every two months. They are at an age where they feel the need to tell someone their stories. I am very honored that I am the one who gets to listen and gather these family nuggets. Plus, there is the added bonus of using this great material for my shows!

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One of the toughest things I have found when interviewing family members and friends is that when they saw me writing things down, they would tend to be more cautious and less relaxed. So, I started using my phone to record the conversations, but found the recordings were difficult to upload and open leaving it stuck in my phone.

When I came across Saving Memories Forever, it was the perfect solution to my dilemma! When the good folks at Saving Memories Forever asked me to be their in house Storyteller, I was absolutely thrilled! Each month I will have the privilege of giving you new tips on storytelling and story gathering.

I want to encourage you to begin your story gathering with the oldest folks in your family. The main reason for this is because you never know how long you will have them. Plus, they supply not only valuable information about your family but also a glimpse into history itself. So, open up your Saving Memories Forever app on your phone, add their name as the storyteller, put in their life information, and let’s get busy!

I look forward to helping you grow your family history each month.

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kim-weitkampKim Weitkamp is an internationally known, professional storyteller. Her material has been featured on NPR (National Public Radio), SiriusXM, and other radio stations throughout the states. Kim is best known for her personal stories of growing up free range in Amish Country, Pennsylvania. Her stories give the listener a humorous yet poignant view of life and growing up. Her articles on genealogy, storytelling, and family history have been published in various magazines and journals. Kim is passionate about the power of story (in business and in the home) and story coupled with genealogy/family history. She regularly keynotes on these topics. You can learn more about Kim by visiting her website at www.kimweitkamp.com.

Are We There Yet: Making Family Vacation Travel Easier

In the minds of most Americans, Memorial Day trumpets the beginning of summer. What better way to kick off the summer than with picnics and parades?

Just behind the parades and picnics come the family vacation! A lot of the vacation planning started awhile ago. Dates have been set; hotel and plane reservations have been made. The GPS system has been updated. But that doesn’t cover everything.  Not by a long shot.

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Consider, for example, the plaintive “Are we there yet?” from the 10-year old in the back seat of the car.  You’ve prepared for an 8-hour car ride, but it’s disheartening that your son is asking this question only 30 minutes into the ride. Then there’s the wondering. Did you re-confirm picking up the newspaper with the neighbor?  Will your daughter’s lousy cough develop into something worse?

 

There are actually travel apps that can help you with all of this.

An app called Viber allows you to text and call without those roaming fees. Then  there’s Wi-Finder that finds Wi-Fi in 114 countries. Still another app, mPassport, helps you locate certified medical help globally.

 

The Saving Memories Forever app provides help of a different kind.

Remember the 10-year old in the back of the car?  Instead of having him count car licenses from 50 states or playing endless hours of Nintendo, show him how the Saving Memories Forever app works and have him act as the family news reporter for the family trip, recording funny incidents as they occur. Yes, it’s easy enough for a 10-year old to operate.

Perhaps “downtime” is another aspect of vacationing that you haven’t fully considered. Don’t misunderstand. There is a clear benefit to doing nothing other than listen to the sound of ocean waves. In fact, be sure to do that.

But vacations also give you an opportunity to talk, to reinforce the bonds of what it means to be a couple and a family. Dedicate some vacation time to tell your children more about your family. You might want to focus on relatives who often get overlooked—the relatives who are no longer living. These may include people your children will never meet in person. But they don’t have to be unknown.

At Saving Memories Forever, we’ve come up with a process that helps you bring these relatives back to life. We call these re-creations Virtual Relatives. Click here for a blog that further introduces Virtual Relatives or click here for the How-To blog that provides step-by-step instructions.  It only takes minutes at a time to create a meaningful legacy.

 

Three step to consider:

1) Register on our website for the free version of our service by using the “Sign Up” link in the upper right hand corner of our home page. Try it out to make sure that your iPhone or Android is compatible with our system. This also gives you an opportunity to practice your family’s storytelling skills.

2) Practice before you show up at the family reunion or focus on creating your own Virtual Relatives.  We suggest you practice by recording a story or two about yourself. Let the kids listen to you as you record your story. It will be fun to listen to your children’s laughter as part of your recording.

3) Compare the free service to our Premium Subscription. Click here for the link that provides a chart comparing the two.

 

Where are you planning to go on your family vacation?  How will you gather and save those memories?