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Many Sephardic Jews Arent Actually Sephardic The Forward

Posted By on November 27, 2017

During my childhood in the 1960s and 70s in the USSR, the only books published about Jews were ideological works that criticized Zionism, Israel and what the Soviets considered the national Jewish mentality. As you might imagine, thanks to these books, many of us had a totally distorted picture of our true origins as Jews.

Many of my Jewish friends in fact believed they were Sephardic. They believed that their ancestors came to Russia from Spain, with a detour through Germany after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.

My friends and I were unaware of the existence of flourishing Jewish communities in western Germany, who had lived there since at least the 11th century way before the Jews were expelled from Spain. Neither were we aware that Jews had lived in Slavic countries since at least the 10th century.

But most of all, we did not know what many people dont know: that no group of Sephardic Jews ever migrated to Germany, with the exception of a single Sephardic community that made its way to Hamburg.

Indeed, this mistaken belief, that many European Jews have Sephardic origins, is not limited to us in our Soviet-imposed navet. Despite the prevalence of studies and textbooks, many Jews living in Israel, North America and Western Europe believe some of their ancestors spent the Middle Ages in Spain.

And its simply not true.

Lets start with definitions.

The term Sephardic, derived from the medieval Hebrew word meaning Spanish, has multiple meanings. In a larger sense, it refers to communities that follow the religious rites and traditions of Jews from medieval Spain. This would include North African Jews, for example.

In a narrower sense, a Sephardic Jew is someone whose ancestors lived in medieval Spain. Numerous Jews with roots in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya consider themselves Sephardic for this reason (if they do not adhere to the theory of Judeo-Berbers).

They are not wrong. Lots of historical, linguistic and onomastic evidence indicates that this belief has solid ground. Rabbinic sources discuss the arrival of a number of Jewish families in the Maghreb in North Africa right after the massive persecutions of Spanish Jews of 1391. Spanish Jews found their way from the Kingdom of Aragon to Algeria. Thousands of Jews later came to Morocco from Spain after the expulsion in 1492.

This burgeoning community gradually created their own idiomatic language, Judeo-Spanish, also called Haketia, and rabbinical texts from the 17th and 18th centuries from all parts of Morocco still contain Judeo-Spanish texts. Later, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, hundreds of Jews with Sephardic roots migrated from Italy to Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers. Moreover, since all these countries (except for Morocco) were inside the Ottoman Empire before the 19th century, a number of Ottoman Jews, also mainly with Sephardic roots, migrated there. At the time of their migration to the Maghreb, Jews from Iberia, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire were already bearing hereditary surnames. Spanish-based personal names such as Blanca (white), Luna (moon), Ora (gold), Plata (silver), and Rica (rich) were commonly used by Jewish women in North Africa.

This is not to say that the Jewish population of North Africa is due exclusively to Sephardic migrants. Historical sources indicate that Iberian migrants immediately became the cultural elite in Algeria at the turn of the 14th-15th centuries. But nothing suggests that these migrants were more numerous than the local Jews. We know about important religious debates between the Spanish-Jewish newcomers and indigenous Jews that took place during the 16th century in Morocco, where for many years these two groups had separate communities. In Tunis, the community of Italian-Jewish migrants (mainly Sephardim from the city of Livorno) lived separately from the indigenous Jewish community until 1944 and accounted for only ten percent of the citys Jewish population.

But that is the extent of the Jews who can reasonably claim to be Sephardic.

The Jews of Eastern Europe faced an entirely different history than their North African coreligionists.

The mistaken belief that many European Jews are Sephardic is based almost invariably on surnames borne by members of their families. The examples that produced this case of mistaken identity are numerous. For example, we find Paes in Belorussia and Pais in Ukraine, while Paez/Pais is also a common surname in the Sephardic communities of Amsterdam and London. Or take the surname Mindes (also from the Russian Empire), which sounds very close to the Portuguese Mendes and the Spanish Mendez. OR take the name Rappaport, which some believe was taken by a rabbi from Porto (Portugal). Then you have several sources which claim that the famous Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz is said to have Sephardic ancestors, likely due to numerous Sephardic Jews called Perez or Peres. And many other surnames of Jews from Eastern Europe sound close either to surnames borne by Sephardic Jews and/or Iberian Catholics, or to some Romance words or place names.

But none of this is strong evidence. Some surnames derived from Hebrew first names are shared by Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews because these given names were shared by both groups, like the Ashkenazic Peretz and Sephardic Perez. But none of the other examples checks out. The second part of Rappaport, for example, comes from the town of Porto in northern Italy (where this Ashkenazic family dwelled), and not the city in Portugal. And in a majority of the other cases, what were dealing with here are fortuitous phonetic coincidences.

For example, Paes simply means of Paye in Yiddish, and was certainly assigned to a person whose mother (or wife) had the personal name Paye, the Yiddish form derived from the biblical name Zipporah. Moreover, Portuguese Catholics called Pais and Spanish Catholics Paez are named for a derivative of Paio, an Iberian vernacular derivative of the Latin male first name Pelagius. These names are found in Sephardic families whose ancestors were or posed as Catholics for several generations before becoming openly Jewish outside of the Iberian Peninsula.

Usually, the shorter the name, the bigger the chances of fortuitous coincidences with etymologically unrelated names. Still, coincidences are possible even for relatively long names. My favorite example of this comes from medieval Spain, where we find Jews bearing the surname Chicat(i)ella. It sounds like the Spanish word chiquitillo which means tiny. After the expulsion of 1492, certain members of this family moved to Morocco.

They would probably be less than enthused to learn that Chikatilo was also the surname of the serial killer with the largest number of victims in the history of USSR. His family has nothing to do with Jews, though; his surname comes from a Ukrainian nickname chekotylo, or one who chirps.

I am not claiming that Jews from Eastern Europe could not have had ancestors who lived in Spain. There are sources from the Russian Pale of Settlement from the 19th-century with surnames like Abarbanel, Abugov, Abulafyev, which are Russified forms of Abuhab and Abulafia. We also find Karo (Caro), Kuriel (Curiel), and Don Yahia, as well as Sfard, Portugejs and Shpanier (Spaniard in German).

And a surname without Sephardic roots does not necessarily imply that the family cannot have Sephardic ancestors; before the end of the 18th century, individual Sephardic Jews joining Ashkenazic communities in Eastern Europe from Italy or the Ottoman Empire had chances to lose their surnames because hereditary family names were not used by local Jews, apart from the cases of a few rabbinical families.

There are always exceptions to the rule. Indeed, several readers erroneously believed my previous writing on Khazar and Berber origins implied that conversions to Judaism never occurred when, in fact, I argued that mass conversions never occurred, while individual conversions certainly did, most notably in antiquity, when several major figures in Jewish history were converts.

Yet, the less than twenty Sephardic-originated surnames in Eastern Europe represent a tiny group within my dictionary of Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire, which includes more than 70,000 surnames. And the cases where Sephardic origins are now obscured etymologically are hard to confirm, and likely small in numbers.

An honest look at the data suggests that very few Sephardic Jews ever made it to Eastern Europe.

Alexander Beider is a linguist and the author of reference books about Jewish names and the history of Yiddish. He lives in Paris.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Many Sephardic Jews Arent Actually Sephardic The Forward

Havurot Congregation B’nai B’rith

Posted By on November 27, 2017

What is a Havurah?

Havurah (plural:havurot) comes from the Hebrew word haver, whichmeansfriend or fellowship. When people talk about my Havurah, being in a Havurah, the word refers toa small group that gathers together to socialize, celebrate holidays, or learn more about Jewish topics. They may study, worship, celebrate, and eat together. The focus is entirely up to the group itself. For many, the Havurah is an extended family.

Why join a Havurah?

CBBis a large and vibrant community of more than800 households. Our congregation includes manyages, stages, viewpoints, and interests. Belonging to a Havurah helpsmembers connect withothers who have similar interests, to explore a connection to Judaism in a group, and to develop a community for sharing life cycle events.

What does a Havurah do?

Each Havurah creates theirown experience based on its members interests and priorities. The most successful Havurot start each year with a planning meeting to set up dates and event ideas for the entire year. Activities can include holiday or personal milestoneobservances, Jewish educational programs, Temple activities, and also social outings, community service, and whatever else your group wants to do together. Volunteering as a group is another great way to establish closeness and practice Jewish values.

What if the dynamics of the group change or we are not getting along?

Imagine that, ten Jews and eleven opinions! Although this rarely happens, it does. The best thing to do is stick with it and work it out, just as a caring family would. Reviewing the groups goals and expectations on a regular basis to make sure everyones needs are being met should help prevent this. Being effective communicators, practicing cooperation, tolerance, flexibility, and conflict resolution all lead to a more cohesive group in the long run. If there are still issues the Havurah Coordinators can also help.

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Havurot Congregation B’nai B’rith

Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion | IHRA

Posted By on November 27, 2017

IHRAs 31 member countries adopted the Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion at IHRAs Plenary meeting in Toronto on 10 October 2013.

The Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion was developed by IHRA experts in the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial in cooperation with IHRAs governmental representatives for use as a working tool.

Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion

The present definition is an expression of the awareness that Holocaust denial and distortion have to be challenged and denounced nationally and internationally and need examination at a global level. IHRA hereby adopts the following legally non-binding working definition as its working tool.

Holocaust denial is discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II, known as the Holocaust or the Shoah. Holocaust denial refers specifically to any attempt to claim that the Holocaust/Shoah did not take place.

Holocaust denial may include publicly denying or calling into doubt the use of principal mechanisms of destruction (such as gas chambers, mass shooting, starvation and torture) or the intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people.

Holocaust denial in its various forms is an expression of antisemitism. The attempt to deny the genocide of the Jews is an effort to exonerate National Socialism and antisemitism from guilt or responsibility in the genocide of the Jewish people. Forms of Holocaust denial also include blaming the Jews for either exaggerating or creating the Shoah for political or financial gain as if the Shoah itself was the result of a conspiracy plotted by the Jews. In this, the goal is to make the Jews culpable and antisemitism once again legitimate.

The goals of Holocaust denial often are the rehabilitation of an explicit antisemitism and the promotion of political ideologies and conditions suitable for the advent of the very type of event it denies.

Distortion of the Holocaust refers, inter alia, to:

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Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion | IHRA

What Is Zionism? – YouTube

Posted By on November 27, 2017

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Long before the creation of the state of Israel, the World Zionist Congress functioned as the Jewish government. Now it is on its 37th meeting. So what is the Zionism and how does it influence Israeli politics?

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The Land of Israelhttp://www.jewfaq.org/israel.htm “The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, and the story of Abraham begins when G-d tells him to leave his homeland, promising Abraham and his descendants a new home in the land of Canaan.”

Mission Statementhttp://www.wzo.org.il/Mission-Statement “The World Zionist Organization is committed to promoting Zionism & the Zionist idea and the Zionist enterprise through Israel Education as vital and positive elements of contemporary Jewish life, in accordance with the principles articulated in the Jerusalem Program.”

The National-Religious Sector in Israel 2o14http://en.idi.org.il/media/3863902/Ma… “In recent decades, Jewish Israeli society has experienced a shift of elites and ideologies, including the systematic movement of the National-Religious camp from the margins to the socio-political center stage.”

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Why Jerusalem Matters To Palestine & Israelhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOfdE…

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TestTube’s new daily show is committed to answering the smart, inquisitive questions we have about life, society, politics and anything else happening in the news. It’s a place where curiosity rules and together we’ll get a clearer understanding of this crazy world we live in.

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What Is Zionism? – YouTube

Call It Splitsville, N.Y.: Hasidic Enclave to Get Its Own …

Posted By on November 25, 2017

Under the settlement between Kiryas Joel and the nonprofit group Preserve Hudson Valley, the village agreed to drop an earlier campaign to annex more than 500 acres of land while the group agreed to drop its appeal of the towns approval of the 164-acre annexation. Instead, the village will annex 56 more acres, for a total of 220. And Kiryas Joel agreed not to acquire any more land for at least 10 years.

Turnout was heavy on Election Day and the proposition passed with more than 80 percent of the vote. The new Town of Palm Tree, which will officially come into existence in 2020, derives its name from Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Hasidic leader who founded the village of Kiryas Joel. The name Teitelbaum means date palm in Yiddish, and the palm tree is used as a logo for Satmar groups.

Under the new government structure, the borders of the new Town of Palm Tree will be the same as those of the Village of Kiryas Joel, along with the 56 new acres. Only a handful of towns and villages in New York State have conterminous boundaries. Under New York State law, all villages must be contained within a town.

In a bustling shopping center here at dusk, women in ankle-length skirts and men in broad-rimmed black hats shopped for food and ran errands with children in tow. One after another, women politely refused to answer questions about the recent vote splitting Kiryas Joel from the Town of Monroe.

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Call It Splitsville, N.Y.: Hasidic Enclave to Get Its Own …

Sephardic music: La Roza enflorese – YouTube

Posted By on November 25, 2017

Sephardic music has its roots in the musical traditions of the Jewish communities in medieval Spain. Since then, it has picked up influences from Morocco, Argentina, Turkey, Greece, and the other places that Spanish Jews settled after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Lyrics were preserved by communities formed by the Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. These Sephardic communities share many of the same lyrics and poems, but the music itself varies considerably.Because so many centuries have passed since the exodus, a lot of the original music has been lost. Instead, Sephardic music has adopted the melodies and rhythms of the various countries where the Sephardim settled in. The Greek and Turkish traditions are fairly close. The Moroccan or “western” Sephardic traditions are not that close to the eastern/Greek/Turkish traditions.These song traditions spread from Spain to Morocco (the Western Tradition) and several parts of the Ottoman Empire (the Eastern Tradition) including Greece, Jerusalem, the Balkans and Egypt. Sephardic music adapted to each of these locales, assimilating North African high-pitched, extended ululations; Balkan rhythms, for instance in 9/8 time; and the Turkish maqam mode.The song traditions were studied and transcribed in the early twentienth century by a number of musical ethnologists and scholars of medieval Hispanic literature. From around 1957 until quite recently, Samuel Armistead (UC Davis) with colleagues Joseph Silverman and Israel Katz collected the Judeo-Spanish song tradition from informants in North America, Turkey, the Balkans, Greece, North Africa, and Israel. The digitized recordings, with transcriptions and information about song type, is available on the website Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews, now permanently hosted by the University of Illinois Library.Performers: La Roza Enflorese

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Sephardic music: La Roza enflorese – YouTube

Durme, Durme (Traditional Sephardic Lullaby) – YouTube

Posted By on November 24, 2017

This traditional lullaby is sung in Ladino, a Jewish hybrid language also known as Judeo-Spanish. Performed by the Janet and Jak Esim Ensemble (Antik Bir Huzun / Judeo-Espanyol Ezgiler – Kalan Muzik, 2005). Many varieties of the lyrics are sung throughout Europe and North Africa, attesting to the widespread influence of the Sephardic Diaspora.

Durme, durme, querido hijico / Sleep, sleep beloved sondurme sin ansia y dolor / sleep with no frettingcerra tus chicos ojicos / close your tiny eyesdurme, durme con savor. / sleep, sleep restfully.Cerra tus lindos ojicos / Close your beautiful eyesdurme, durme con savor. / sleep, sleep restfully.

De la cuna salirs / Out of the criba la escola tu entrars / to enter schooly alli mi querido hijico / and there, my beloved sona meldar te ambezars. / you’ll begin to read.

De la escola salirs / Out of school a las pachas te irs / to go to the pashasa y tu mi querido hijico / and you my beloved sonal empiego entrars. / to work you’ll go.

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Durme, Durme (Traditional Sephardic Lullaby) – YouTube

Zionism 101 | My Jewish Learning

Posted By on November 24, 2017

The roots of Zionism lay in Eastern Europe, notably within the confines of the Russian Empire. It was there, towards the end of the 19th century, that the largest and, in many ways, the most dynamic of Jewish communities was locatedthough it was also the most troubled. Conceived by czarist autocracy as a major obstacle to its drive to transform the population into a uniform and malleable society, Russian Jewry was subjected to extremely severe pressure to change its customs, culture, and religion.

The Jews, for the most part, tended to bear with the laws that regulated their daily lives and cumulatively humiliated and impoverished them. But when wholesale expulsions from certain areas and successive waves of physical attack were added to the longfamiliar misery, life under Russian rule in the 1880s began to be judged intolerable.

The Jewish predicament precipitated several reactions, all with a view to finding a lasting solution: a vast movement of emigration, chiefly to the west; the radicalization and politicization of great numbers of young Jewish people, many bending their energies to the overthrow of autocracy; and, among the increasingly secular intelligentsia, a rise in modern nationalist consciousness. It was the latter tendencyZionismthat bore the most radical implications and was to have the most remarkable results.

The Zionist analysis of the nations afflictions and its prescription for relief consisted of four interconnected theses. First, the fundamental vulnerability of the Jews to persecution and humiliation required total, drastic, and collective treatment. Second, reform and rehabilitationcultural, no less than social and politicalmust be the work of the Jews themselves, i.e., they had to engineer their own emancipation. Third, only a territorial solution would serve; in other words, that establishing themselves as the majority population in a given territory was the only way to normalize their status and their relations with other peoples and polities. Fourth, only in a land of their own would they accomplish the full, essentially secular, revival of Jewish culture and of the Hebrew language.

These exceedingly radical theses brought the Zionists into endless conflict with an array of hostile forces, both Jewish and non-Jewish. On the one hand, Zionism implied a disbelief in the promise of civil emancipation and a certain contempt for Jews whose fervent wish was assimilation into their immediate environment. On the other hand, by offering a secular alternative to tradition, Zionism challenged religious orthodoxy as wellalthough, given the orthodox view of Jewry as a nation, the two had something in common after all. The Zionists were thus condemned from the outset to being a minority among the Jews and lacking the support that national movements normally receive from the people to whose liberation their efforts are directed.

The other struggle which the Zionists had to face resulted from their political and territorial aims. They had to fight for international recognition and for acceptance as a factor of consequence, however small, by the relevant powers. In the course of time they have had to contend with the political and, eventually, armed hostility of the inhabitants and neighbors of the particular territory where virtually all Zionists desired to reestablish the Jewish people as a free nation: Palestine, or in Hebrew, Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.

They were more successful in the broader international arena than on the local front. Ottoman opposition hobbled the movement almost totally in its early years, and the violent opposition mounted by Arab states and peoples has to this day shaped the physical and political landscape in which Zionism has implemented its ideals. In the final analysis, it is nonetheless the reluctance of the majority of Jews worldwide to subscribe to its program in practice that has presented the strongest challenge to Zionism, and has proved the greatest obstacle to its ultimate triumph.

Reprinted with permission from A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People, published by Schocken Books.

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Passport to Museums | Arts Initiative Columbia University

Posted By on November 24, 2017

Current undergraduate and graduate students can explore New York City through our Passport to Museums program. With your CUID and semester validation sticker you can visit over 30 museums that generously provide Columbia students with free admission. From Museum Mile in Manhattan to sculpture gardens in Queens, use your Passport to visit these amazing cultural destinations.

You mayobtain your current semester validation stickerfrom your school’s ID center: 204Kent Hall for all Columbia University and Barnard students, 160 Thorndike Hall for Teachers College students, or 1-405C P&S for all CUMC students.

The Arts Initiative can help faculty arrange and subsidize class visits to Passport to Museums partners through our ArtsLink program. Click here to learn more.

*The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters also provide free admission to Columbia University faculty who present a current CUID at the admission desk. Free admission is available only to the faculty member (does not extend to family members or guests).**El Museo del Barrio extends free admission to all current Columbia University students, faculty, and staff, plus aguest (Columbia affiliate must showCUID).

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Passport to Museums | Arts Initiative Columbia University

‘Nazi Grandma’ convicted in Berlin of Holocaust denial …

Posted By on November 24, 2017

JTA – Ursula Haverbeck, a well-known historical revisionist and neo-Nazi, was again convicted of Holocaust denial.

Haverbeck, 88, was convicted in a Berlin district court on Monday and sentenced to six months in prison, Deutsche Welle reported.

The conviction was for saying at an event in the city in January 2016 that the Holocaust did not occur and that there were no gas chambers at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, which she said was a labor camp. Haverbeck said she will appeal the conviction.

Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany.

She is scheduled to go on trial in the western German town of Detmold for the third time, after twice being convicted of incitement to hatred there for denying a genocide of the Jews during World War II.

In November 2016, Haverbeck was convicted by a court in Verden on the basis of numerous articles she had published in the local newspaper Stimme des Reiches, or Voice of the Reich, in which she denied that the Holocaust occurred. The previous month, a court in Bad Oeynhausen sentenced Haverbeck to 11 months in jail for incitement to hate. In September 2016, the court in Detmold sentenced her to 8 months in prison. And the previous year, a court in Hamburg sentenced her to ten months in jail. She has appealed all of these decisions as well and has not spent any time in jail on the convictions.

German media call her the Nazi grandma, according to DW.

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‘Nazi Grandma’ convicted in Berlin of Holocaust denial …


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