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I am of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic parentage. I view this as allowing me to behave Sephardically when it suits me (for instance, eating kitniyot for Pessach) or Ashkenacikally when it suits me (for instance, not wearing a Talit until my wedding). Another example is that my tefillin is Sephardic, but I tie it Ashkenazically (though the ש comes out backwards).

Someone once told me that this is wrong, and that I should follow the customs of my father. My father, however, grew up completely secular and only started observing when he had a family of his own. In this case, the customs of my father don't follow the customs of his father and the ancestors before that.

In a case such as this, whose customs should I follow. Is it correct to pick my own customs when I don't have the customs of my forefathers to fall back on?

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CYLOR in practical halachic matters –  Shmuel Brin Oct 9 '11 at 8:00
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@tom: I generally think of myself as Conservative. Would you say CYLCR? :-) –  Nathan Fellman Oct 9 '11 at 9:33
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I would say so. I'm sure YLOR (=your local, orthodox rabbi) would be glad to answer the question even if you generally think of yourself as Conservative. (Or I'd hope so. Anyway, most would.) –  msh210 Oct 9 '11 at 14:13
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If you get a choice would expect you to have to pick a set of customs, not to pick different sources for different cases. In other words, if you want the leniency of kitniyot you're also signing up for an extra month of s'lichot; is it worth it? :-) –  Monica Cellio Oct 9 '11 at 15:37
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@MonicaCellio - One of my morim from when I was in yeshivah who also worked for the rabbanut used to help teach gerim pre-conversion for them to become Jewish. He told me this himself, so I assume it must be true. Later on, I asked my own rav about baalei teshuvah and minhagim, to which he replied almost the same thing, but that they have to conform to community minhagim if they exist. –  Adam Mosheh May 15 '12 at 3:06
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The women when marries adopt the custom of the husband, so even if your mother family is Ashkenazi, she is now Sepharadi.

So yes, you should follow the custom of your parents. The rule is not to look one generation up as customs are established with many generations. So even if you father doesn't have any (wasn't educated) you can look at the origins, in you case you now you have Sepharadic roots.

Further, there are the case of people that became more religious from the parents when they have a traditional background and are not sure what is the specific minhag. for example, on Rosh Hashana/Iom Hakipurim should you say Shilton or Sholtan ?

Cases like this one could adopt the custom of the place he uses to pray, specially if he moves to Israel where there is a clear established custom of Ierushalaim.

Further, outside of Israel, where it is common not to have a clear custom of the city or even of the synagogue where you are praying, the Rabanim are usually lenient, but you should really ask your Rav if this is the case. In this case I believe you can just adopt the custom of Ierushalaim.

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Re "in you case you now you have sepharadic roots": I don't see any indication in the question which side is which. –  msh210 Oct 9 '11 at 14:14
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