Dec. 6th, 2014

liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[ profile] ghoti requested: I'm talking about family traditions, could you do that too?

So one thing my family do, more rarely nowadays, but on occasions when we're all together for Friday night meals, is we do a full sung grace after meals. Which is to say, about six pages, some chanted but mostly singing, with call-and-response and multi-part harmony and gestures and sound-effects and drumming on the table. We learned this initially at Hengrave and expanded on it at youth camp. And you understand that absolutely nobody in my family of origin can carry a tune, don't imagine some cute pious tableau of everybody sitting round the table singing religious songs, it's much more about raucous cacophony.

And there's puns and sarcastic asides and arguments about some of the theology and gender politics, which have themselves almost become part of the ritual. Like, everybody points at me at a tower of salvation to God's own king because malco is similar to the playground insult mal-co[ordinated]. We argue whether in the sight of God and mankind is sexist, or rather, whether adam means 'human being' or the personal name Adam, which should then according to egal traditions be replaced with 'Adam and Eve'. (I'm on the side of the argument that is actually grammatically correct, if anyone feels tempted to chip in at this point.) Or whether we should include the traditional quote from the Psalm I have been a youth and now I am old, and I have never seen the righteous in want, nor their offspring begging for bread, or whether R' Gryn (of blessed memory)'s replacement prayer is ableist because of May we not be blind to the needs of others, nor deaf to their cry for food.

Another thing we do that's special to my family is, at the Passover seder meal, we always tell my great uncle's joke, it's almost become part of the ritual. The joke is that a Jewish man is going to be knighted for his achievements, and he is taught a Latin tag that he's supposed to recite when he's presented to the Queen. But at the crucial moment, his mind goes blank, so he says the first foreign thing that comes into his head, the opening to the Four Questions traditionally recited by the youngest child at a Passover seder: Mah nishtanah halayla hazeh mikol haleylot. And the Queen turns to Prince Philip and says, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?" (a homophone for the ritual question, why is this night [of Passover] different from all other nights?) I knew [personal profile] jack was going to fit in to my family when he took on telling this joke one year. [personal profile] jack tells it really well, actually, he makes the experience of the confused Jewish knight-to-be really vivid.

It's strange to tackle this prompt, actually. I'm not sure there's a lot we do that isn't fairly typical for English Reform Jews, but equally that's a fairly small and not well known culture, so maybe I should talk about things that I think of as 'normal' but would seem surprising to other people. But anyway, here's a couple of examples to be going on with.

[December Days masterpost]


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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