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Ancestors and nusach


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 29, 5781
Shalom. My name is Yaakov. I am a baal teshuva. I am Jewish with maternal lineage and grew up told a Jew but never religious. After my great grandmother married a gentile, her daughter (my grandmother) did the same as did her daughter (my mother). My Jewish ancestors came from Ukraine and were Ashkenazim. As Ive returned to Judaism I have ended up settling in sephardic ways as well as use edot hamizrach which I personally feel connected to. I am not close to any community exactly. Am I ok using my siddur of edot hamizrach? I am not sinning or doing wrong by not choosing one of the more likely nusach that my Ashkenic ancestors wouldve used?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. When it comes to having a nusach to pray with, we usually follow the practice of our parents. However, in your case, this is (obviously) not possible. Some opinions would advice you to return to your ancestral roots – ie. Ashkanazic prayer and custom. Others would say that once the “chain of tradition” was broken (for so many generations in your case), you are free to choose what suits you best. However, in your case, as you have already gotten used to the edot ha’mizrach nusach, that gives that side of the question more weight. This being so, feel free to continue with your siddur. Two points, however. Firstly, you should make a point to continue with the siddur without it becoming a binding “oath”. That is you should say you will pray edut ha’mizrach “bli neder” without any promise to do so forever. This gives you the opening to change in the future should you decide to. Secondly, you should try to become part of a community. This has many benefits, and for many reasons will be good for you. When this happens, you may want to consider using their nusach. Many blessings.
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