When I was young, on the first night of Passover, our family would walk to my father’s parents’ home. After climbing up a flight of stairs, we entered the living room, where the table was already set with special dishes, wine glasses and at the head of the table, a Seder plate.

Zadie Joe, having been born in the Ukraine to a family of rabbis, could recite the Passover Haggadah by heart, but quickly read every word in Hebrew. We listened quietly as he told the story of the Israelitesexodus from Egypt.

On the second night of Passover, ourThe children fidgeted and looked at pictures family walked to my mother’s parents’ home for the Passover Seder. The tables were set up from the dining room into the living room to accommodate the three and then four generations of family.

Zadie Leib, also born in Ukraine, mumbled the Haggadah while reclining on pillows. The children, at the foot of the table, fidgeted and looked at the pictures. The youngest child read “The Four Questions.” Finally, we ate the egg and then the homemade gefilte fish, and the meal of chicken soup with matzah balls, roast chicken and many side dishes. The afikomen was found by the children; along with opening the door for Elijah, that was the highlight of the Seder.

Several years after I married, as Passover approached, Adam announced, “I want to lead my own Seders in my own home. I want my children to learn my traditions that I learned from my father, so they can pass them on to the next generation. Your family is welcome to join us.”

Starting that year, he led Seders in our home. He sat at the head of the dining-room table overflowing with our Passover dishes and glasses. Everyone took an active role, participating, reciting out loud a portion of the Haggadah. We had discussions about the readings and even the children took part.

My grandson, Max, brought props for the 10 plagues: little frogs, cows and sunglasses for darkness. We ended the Seder with a piece of the afikomen that the children tried to find with Adam saying, “You're getting warmer or colder” until they found it.

Starting from when I was young, after the Seder, Zadie Joe told of his departure from Ukraine. Being the youngest of nine children, he rebelled against the idea of studying to become a rabbi. At the age of 13, he left his parents to journey to the United States. Zadie Joe never saw his parents or siblings again; they didn’t survive the war.

While on board the ship to America, Zadie Joe threw his tefillin overboard. Perhaps he hoped to start a new life without the anti-Semitism that pervaded his homeland. After landing in Boston, he became a presser in the garment district and helped start the garment workers’ union.

Years later, when he was gravely ill, Zadie Joe wanted to go back to the Judaism he had abandoned as a child. He asked my Dad to bring his tallit bag, which still had his tallit and his small Russian prayer book that he had brought with him on his journey to America, perhaps knowing he would need them again.

My Dad bought Zadie Joe new tefillin so he could pray every day. I still have the small Russian prayer book.

After the Passover Seder at our home, Adam followed the tradition of telling his father, Louie’s departure for America. His family resided in St. Petersburg. The youngest son, Sam, was drafted into the czar’s army for 25 years.

In those days, a Jew drafted into the army for so long never returned to the family. But Sam escaped. He handed his gun to the soldier outside the latrine and then left. “He may still be standing there,” he joked.

The family decided to immigrate to America. In order to escape, they reported to the authorities that they were going to their dacha on the Black Sea for a holiday.

They assumed that the officials at the border had a list of army conscripts who might be trying to leave the country; therefore, Sam had to change his last name. The family bribed some official with diamonds in order to change Sam’s last name from Zakon to Goldberg. The family, wanting to have the same last name as Sam, all changed their last name to Goldberg.

Once the Goldbergs reached the Black Sea,Sam had to change his last name they boarded a ship to America. They were so relieved that they all escaped Russia together. They brought their tallit and tefillin along with a Samovar embossed with symbols of the czar. They hoped they would be able to practice their religion freely in America.

After landing in Boston, the family opened The Back Bay Jewelers. Louie passed the bar to become a lawyer; he once even argued a case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

My son cherishes his grandfather’s notes from that case.

Now, Adam is no longer with me. I go to our son’s home for the Seders and listen while each person has a chance to recite aloud a portion of the Haggadah.

As we sit at the table, we read about the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt. We also talk about our relatives’ difficult and often miraculous journeys to the United States, as well as their difficult and often miraculous journeys back to our traditions.

We end the Seder with the words of the Haggadah: This year we are here, next year we will be in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year we will be free.