the term breadcrumb can be a metaphor for a trail left behind. the term breadcrumbs can present the reality of being a piece of bread. observant families before passover make sure that remove these breadcrumbs from their house. metaphorical breadcrumbs, however, for some, remained in the houses during the holiday. they remained there for multitudes of generations. today, they have allowed some to discover their roots and return.
a recent jta article discused a mr. james ord from the united states who lives in new mexico. the article discussed how he was in the process of reclaiming his spanish citizenship. the spanish government has allowed descendents of converso or crypto-jews to do so. jta.org
the article notes ” during the Inquisition, when spain forced jews to convert to christianity or be exiled, many of those who chose to convert continued to practice at least some Jewish rituals in secret. In recent decades, evidence has surfaced that some conversos and crypto-Jews crossed the ocean with the spanish empire,” jta.org
mr. ord noted that that some catholic families in his area have customs which were odd. he told the story “we would have easter dinner growing up, and we would leave an empty plate at the table full of herbs that were still on the stem,” ord said, alluding to a practice that is reminiscent of the jewish holiday of passover, which takes place around the same time as easter. “we didn’t know why we did it. nobody remembered.” jta.org
there are other passover ritual practices that emerged. individuals made it a point by eating lettuce, celery or other bitter herbs during passover. likewise, there were some who cooked up special eggs, huevos haminados during passover time. others would make bunuelos which was matzah dough cooked and drizzled with honey. aish.com
what were the motivations of those who both started and passed on these traditions? was this done in an effort to preserve a small part of their heritage or religion? for those in later generation who did not know the reason why they engaged in such activities, what compelled them to continue to do so in the family for many generations?
is it possible that those who started these traditions believed that they were in fact leaving breadcrumbs? did they believe that someday, when religious persecution stopped, these ritual acts would assist their descendants to return to judaism? or, was this an unintended consequence of their act to save something of their past and who they were?
with individuals such as mr. ord, there has been an awakening and interest to return to a past which was derailed for hundreds of years. this story is not of blind faith but of blind ritual.
in sum, mr. ord and his family and their future generations will certainly celebrate that their families never wavered on keeping up their odd traditions. in the end, certain breadcrumbs are a welcome passover sight.
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