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Who Is And Isn’t Sephardic?
Tue, 07/08/2014 - 20:00

I enjoyed the section on “Sephardim In New York” (June 27). I have learned that while the Syrian Jews do have Sephardim in their past, including most Lebanese Jews, they form their own sub-group as Syrians. (The family of my wife of 42 years is from Aleppo.)

The same goes for the great Yemenite Jews — a wonderful culture and history but they are not Sephardic by a long shot. Yet we continue to use the term, for example: the Sephardic Center on Ocean Parkway. Knowledgeable Syrians will tell you, “we all pray more or less the same, as opposed to Central and East European Jews, but we are Syrians.”

I believe it’s more expedient to characterize all non-Ashkenazim as Sephardic, though in a sense it’s blurring what “Sephardic” actually means (Western European/Mediterranean Jews).


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One is better off defining or anylizing what the parameters are for this subset of Jews based on certain indicators like the actual definations of the words: Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrachi.

In Hebrew, Ashkenazi actually means German. Sephardi means Spanish and Mizrachi means Eastern.

These three distinctions have to to do with separated despersed group of Jews which divided rabbinic communication was blocked off from each other. They each in turn developed quite distinct customs from each other in various ways.

As a result of this seperation, the Hebraic customs and interpretations were all expressed differently among these Cental/Eastern Europeans and the Spanish Jews who from 1492 were despersed from Spain with that Spanish tradition which went in to the Askinazi culture group Central European region and into the Arabic.

Prayers were similar but the songs and sequences and customary sitting and standing are different. The dress and common daily languages where different. The language is the most notably indureing trait; Yiddish-middle a mix of German and Hebrew; Sephardi is a mix of antiquated Spanish and Hebrew and the Mizrachi spoke a distinct dialect of Arabic, probably mixed also with Hebrew.

The ignorance continues....better read this:

notice "Sapoznik" ;-)

The descendants of Jews who left Spain or Portugal after the 1492 expulsion are referred to as Sephardim. The word “Sephardim” comes from the Hebrew word for Spain, Sepharad, that is stated in the Bible.