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I know there are conflicting views on certain issues relating to following a local custom vs. one's family custom. However, what are the general concepts that are applied in determining the Halachah?

It should seem that the straightforward Halachah is that if someone moves to a new location that has a different Minhag than the Minhag with which one was raised, one automatically needs to conform. Yet, in matters ranging from Tefillah to public mourning to Yom Tov Sheini (in or out of Israel), there are conflicting practices within the same community.

What are the rules - or maybe the circumstances - that need to be weighed?

Some variables that might need to be considered (or might not, I don't know):

  • Visiting students (which can be subdivided into short-term, medium-term, and long-term, and can further be subdivided into other categories)
  • Official-ness of local Minhag
  • Majority observance of local Minhag (or not)
  • Type of Minhag
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For an example of "[m]ajority observance...(or not)", France is now dominated by Sepharadim, although prior to the Holocaust it was for centuries dominated by Ashkenazi decisors of Halachah, primarily in the tradition of the Ba'alei Tosafoth. If you've never been, you should check out Le Grande Synagogue de Paris, aka Synagogue de la Victoire, which is of Ashkenazi tradition, and which is mostly empty on a Shabbath morning. It is quite spectacular. –  Seth J Apr 19 '13 at 18:58

2 Answers 2

Pesachim 51 discusses this topic. Generally it says (unless one is traveling from Israel to Chutz Laaretz and plans to return) one follows the local custom if it's more machmir (strict) or his old location's custom if that is more machmir. For a Tefillah nussach, they'd probably be equally machmir. It also says part of the reason for the above halacha is to avoid machlokes. What I've seen in practice is people follow their own Tefillah nussach unless they davin at the amud for the minyan. Also in the case of Yom Tov sheni, if you plan to return to Israel, you should not do melacha in public.

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What about Chabad houses set up in communities with a standard tradition? What about someone who has moved and bought a house in a "new" location? What about someone who has lived in a "new" location for several years? –  Seth J Apr 19 '13 at 19:00

In public one has to conform with the minhag of the place. Like putting on t'fillin on chol hamoed if everyone else does. Minhagim can change like if new people come and they become the marjority. For someone to change like chabad try to make everyone do, cannot be considered right. Those who visit Crakow and daven in the 'rmo' shul all daven ashkenaz even though they may usually be sfard. I am not sure what 'real' sfardim would do.

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Do you have any sources for any of this? –  Shimon bM Apr 22 '13 at 11:18

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