Be Aware

Dear Sephardic community member don't be fooled by Ashkenazifed Sephardic Rabbis (Rabbis that studied in Ashkenazi Yeshivot) to believe that they teach you Sephardic customs. Keep the customs of your parents and keep the Sephardic tradition alive.

September 15, 2011

Who are Sephardic Jews?

Sephardic Jews are the Jews of Spain, Portugal, mediterranean countries and the Middle East and their descendants. The adjective "Sephardic" and corresponding nouns Sephardi is derived from the Hebrew word "Sepharad," which refers to Spain.

March 21, 2011

Syrian Jews keep their traditions over 100 years in U.S.

One hundred years after Syrian Jews began arriving on U.S. shores, the community in many respects still resembles its close-knit forebears from Damascus and Aleppo.
"We are not celebrating the fact that we arrived in this country, but we are celebrating the fact that we came and remain intact so we see grandchildren keeping the same tradition as great-grandparents," says Rabbi David Cohen, whose Sephardic Renaissance group organized a recent cantorial concert in Brooklyn to mark the community's 100th anniversary.

Sephardim Should read Their Own Parshat Zachor

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef: Sephardim Should read Their Own Parshat Zachor, Ashkenazi Havarah (pronunciation) is Wrong

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, head of the Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah and one of the most brilliant Torah minds of our generation, during a drasha last year before Purim discussed various halachot related to Purim.
Rav Yosef stated that Sephardim in Ashkenazi yeshivot should make their own kriat haTorah (reading) for Parashat Zachor rather than being yotzeh with the yeshiva’s minyan following the Ashkenazi minhagim and havarah (pronunciation).

Saying Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has been referred to as the Posek HaDor ("Posek of the present Generation"), Gadol HaDor ("great/est (one of) the generation"), Maor Yisrael ("The Light of Israel") and Maran.
Following this principle of leniency Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has made a number of Halakhic rulings which are significantly more lenient and different than those made by his Ashkenazi Haredi counterparts. Among them are:
·         Rabbi Yosef holds a Halakhically ambivalent view towards Zionism as the Atchalta D'geula (beginning of the redemption). He views Israel as the first flowering of the redemption. In a well-known Halakhic ruling regarding recognizing, supporting and praying every Shabbat for the state of Israel also saying of Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut (Independence day of Israel), Rabbi Yosef writes that although the Jewish people experienced a miracle with the establishment of the State of Israel, the miracle did not include all of the Jewish people and, therefore, Hallel should not be said with a blessing.

March 20, 2011

Sephardic custom for Tisha beAv - No three weeks

Lately the style among the Askenazified Sepharadim is to duplicate and emulate the Ashkenazim Haredim (Hasidim) and forbid practically everything during the three week period from 17 Tammuz through 9 Av.
Sepharadim have never known of such a three week period and do not have any customs of sadness during this time. If anything they only observed the first 9 days of month of Av or just the week of the fast.

I have tried to research this issue and in fact there is no one Sephardic custom refers to three weeks! Each community abided by different stringencies and leniencies during period.
I have not been able to locate any reference to this three week period in the works of the Sephardic Hachamim or by HaRambam.

The first place we find a mention of this period is by Rabbi Yosef Karo in his Bet Yosef were he quotes an Ashkenazi teshoubah which quotes the Sefer Hasidim (by Rabbi Yehoudah ben Shemouel HeHasid, 1148-1217) which states, “There are some pious ones from the initial pious ones who do not eat any new fruit during the three weeks because how can we say the berakhah of Shehehiyanou at such a sad time of the year.”

Sephardic woman should not wear a wig

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is considered one of the leading halakhic authorities, particularly for Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews ("Maran").
Some of his legal rulings include:
  • That a Sephardic woman should not wear a wig (sheitel) as a form of head covering, but should wear headscarves or hat instead. (According to Jewish Law, Jewish married women must cover their hair in public for reasons of modesty).
    Lately the style among the Askenazified Sepharadim is to duplicate and emulate the Ashkenazim Haredim (Hasidim) and
     have the practice of wearing wigs, that according to Rabbi Yosef it's defeats the purpose of modesty.

Sephardic approach to Halakha with leniency

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef adopts the Talmudic dictum that "the power of leniency is greater." Therefore, one of his fundamental principles of halakhic (Jewish Law) ruling is that lenient rulings should be preferred over chumra (strictly).
Rabbi Yosef sees this as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Sephardic approach to Halakha compared to the Ashkenazi approach. In one of his rulings, he quotes Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai as saying: "The Sephardim are seized by a measure of piety and therefore are lenient in the Halakha, and the Ashkenazim are seized by a measure of bravery and therefore they rule strictly."

Baalei Teshuvah Should Follow Minhagim of Sefardim

Rav Avraham Yosef, the Chief Rabbi of Cholon and son of Rav Ovadiah Yosef, is now following in his father’s footsteps and promoting the psakim (customs and laws) of the Sefardim, according to the Beit Yosef, as the overruling authority in Eretz Yisrael.
Rav Avraham recently said that while everyone should adhere to the customs of his anscestors, and therefore Ashkenazim should follow minhagei Ashkenaz and Sefardim should follow minhagei Sefard, that only applies to religious people who have religious parents who kept those minhagim and piskei halacha.
Anyone who is a baal teshuvah, (becoming more religious) one whose parents are not religious and they themselves did not adhere to their minhagim and psakim, even an Ashkenazi person, would need to keep the Sefardic halacha and minhagim, said Rav Avraham. Since such a person has no ancestral custom to follow, he must accept the Sefardi custom, which is the overruling authority in Eretz Yisrael.

The pressure of Ashkenazi Rabbi on Sephardic student

Rabbi Refael Cohen of Tzefat, a relative of the hatan (groom) explained the events that transpired. 
“The chupah (wedding ceremony) was conducted by the Rosh Yeshiva with the assistance of the hatan’s father who is a Rabbi in one of the northern communities of Israel.  After the ceremony the Ashkenazi Rosh Yeshiva then instructed the hatan and kallah to go to the yichud (private) room, a minhag (custom) that is not followed by Sefardim according to Harav Ovadia Yosef. 
When it became clear to the Rosh Yeshiva that both sets of parents agreed that there would be no yichud, the Rosh Yeshiva left the wedding, instructing all of his students to leave as well.”