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Soaring number of Sephardic Jews acquired Portuguese …

Posted By on February 26, 2018

Gates, passport control and toilets signs are seen at Lisbon’s airport, Portugal June 24, 2016. .(photo credit: REUTERS)

Nearly 1,800 descendants of Sephardic Jews acquired the Portuguese nationality in 2017 under a law enacted two years earlier, with another 12,000 still in the application process, officials in Lisbon said.

The tally for last year is six times higher than the total for 2016, during which the application of the law hit bureaucratic snags amid political changes.

The increase in naturalization under the law, which Portugal passed in 2013 and enacted in 2015 as a form of making amends for the persecution of Jews during the Inquisition that began in the 16th century, comes amid a host of initiatives by the government to strengthen the countrys ties to Jewish audiences and recognition of its Jewish heritage.

A similar push is underway in Spain, which passed a similar law of return simultaneous to the Portuguese one and which has naturalized more than 5,000 applicants. Spain and Portugals economies are heavily reliant on foreign investment and tourism, and both have high unemployment relative to the rest of the European Union 17 and 8.9 percent, respectively and especially among young people.

In Lisbon, a large Jewish museum is under construction and is on schedule to open next year.

The Rede de Juderias network of cities with Jewish heritage sites, which was established in Portugal in 2011, has grown to include 27 municipalities nationwide. A new program called Rotas de Sefarad, or Sepharad Routes, was launched in 2014, involving some of these city councils plus sites in at least 17 venues.

The renovation works under the Rotas de Sefarad ended in December with a total investment of $5.7 million, most of it from Portuguese government funding.

Portugals secretary of state for tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, in a visit this month to the United States she met Jewish community leaders to raise awareness to these developments.

We want a Jewish presence in Portugal, Godinho said in a statement, adding And we look to Jewish investment.

She also said: We have a vast Jewish heritage and a very ancient and profound connection to Jewish communities.

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My Hasidic wedding Orthodoxsunflower

Posted By on February 25, 2018

After our engagement was announced, the town was abuzz. An in-town match is always exciting and the news hadspread like wildfire. Since I was still one of the first of my grade to get engaged, the excitement was high. As for me, it was surreal. I couldnt believe I was engaged, I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasnt dreaming. Many people came over to congratulate us even though it was quite late at night. The wedding was planned for September which was four months away. My fianc and I sat down to talk after our engagement party. In our ultra Hasidic circles it was customary for the bride and groom to not see or talk to each other until the wedding. No phone calls, no face to face meetings and no contact whatsoever. He went back to his Yeshiva. About 2 months later we did have to meet in order for us to get married civilly. It was nerve wracking but actually fun to see him again. I remembered again why I said yes. I felt so comfortable around him, it was as if we saw each other yesterday.

It didnt take long for the big day to arrive. I woke up early and spent the morning praying. Some brides fast until after the Chuppah (ceremony) but I didnt. By lunchtime we had to get ready. Make up, hair. Some brides cover their hair with a wig from the ceremony, some only for the wedding party and others from the next morning. I covered my hair from before the ceremony.

The Chuppah was planned for the afternoon. Its a solemn affair. Brides and grooms have great power on this day and utilize it by praying for those in need. I sat on a comfortable chair and accepted the well wishes of friends and family. The ceremony began withmy fianccoming towards me and covering my face with a veil. (It is done to show that we are not looking at thebeauty only at theinner, spiritual part of the woman)

Photo credit:

The Chuppa is filled with rituals. The two mothers accompany me to the canopy where we circle the groom 7 times. (Under the chuppah, the custom is that the bridecircles the groomseven times. Just as the world was built in seven days, the brideis figuratively building the walls of the couples new world together. The number seven also symbolizes the wholeness and completeness that they cannot attain separately. *)

The chuppa progresses as I stand on the right side of my soon-to-be husband. 7 blessings are recited by different men. The moment that officially makes us husband and wife is when my fiancputs a ring on my right hand finger and declares: Behold, you are betrothed unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel.

Now the ketubah is being read out loud and signed by two witnesses. The Ketubah is a marriage contract outlining the husbands responsibilities to his wife. After the 7 blessings the groom cracks a glass with his foot which isan expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and identifies the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. *

That signals the end of the ceremony. My veil is lifted and amidst shouts of Mazel tov my husband takes my hand and we walk towards a room called yichud room where the couple gets the first chance for some alone time. (Yichud meaning seclusion.)

Its customary for the groom to present the bride with a gift (that his mother chose) in the yichud room. The first few minutes were naturally awkward but it didnt take long for him to put me at ease. He presented me with a beautiful pearl necklace. The parents gave us a few minutes alone, then it was time for pictures. After the pictures we headed home to my parents house. We finally got to sit down to eat. the chuppah was in the afternoon, by the time we got home it was about 6pm. The dinner was called for 8 but the couple doesnt usuallywalk in until after the second course which is usually at 9.30pm.

When everyone left, we had time to talk and get re-acquainted after 3 months of no contact. I dont really remember what we talked about but I recall having a very pleasant experience. I remember being comfortable around him. Time flew by and soon we got the call that it was time to leave. My husband brought me into the ladies section and then continued to the mens section as the wedding wasseparated. The dancing was spirited, joyous and lots of fun. It was a welcome distraction of what awaited me after the wedding. I danced with family and friends until it was time to continue the meal. After the last dance, most people went home. The only ones staying were the family and close friends. Now it was time for something called the mitzvah tantz (dance). Its a very solemn affair reserved only for those closest to the couple. A badchan (jester) calls up male family members to dance with the bride. They are called up with ryhmes and songs. They dancegrasping the end of a cord that the bride is holding at the other end.


I danced with all my uncles, brothers and brother in laws. The badchan also remembers the deceased grandparents and in our case, my husbands father who was no longer alive. His death had been tragic and the moment was very emotional. My brother in law was the badchan and he outdid himself. Even I, who hadnt known him, had tears running down my face. When it was my fathers turn we danced holding hands. Then came the most emotional part of he wedding. The dance with my husband. Its considered the holiest moment of the wedding. Many things can be prayed for at this moment. Its the culmination of a wonderful, joyous night.

Credit: YouTube

It was time to go home. I had been trying not to think about it but now the nerves were back. As a Hasidic girl (and most ultra orthodox girls) I was a virgin and our marriage was supposed to be consummated on our wedding night. This is the least favorite part of the day as we were basically strangers to each other. It wasnt enjoyable but whose first time is? We got it over with and were free to enjoy the next 7 days of festivities. (its customary for family and friends to host meals for the couple for 7 days) The next time was less awkward and it didnt take long for us to have a satisfying intimate life. It might take us a bit longer to get comfortable but once we do, its no different than the rest of the world.

It will be 19 happy years of marriage soon. May it continue to be a happy union for many more years. Mazel tov!

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My Hasidic wedding Orthodoxsunflower

Aberdeen Synagogue & Jewish Community

Posted By on February 24, 2018


Please show your support for our incredible friend Walter Hecht, who is about to run his SECOND half marathon on 1 October 2017, to raise funds for the Flood Appeal.

You can donate to Walters MyDonate pagehere!

Please visit our MyDonate page to make your contribution:ASJCC MyDonate Link

On 28 August 2017, the Shul at 74 Dee Street suffered a flood from an appliance in the first floor community room.

A broken washing machine allowed water to flow into the building for about an hour, and causing over 30,000 of damage. The Synagogue is unusable and the Jewish Community without use of the meeting place we have called home for 70 years.

Please help us raise vital and urgent funds to ensure we can repair and restore our beautiful building the most Northernly synagogue in the UK.

Our fundraising target is 10,000This will fund the essential works, needed to restore and repair the building to a safe and usable condition.

We thank you in advance for your donation and help.

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Aberdeen Synagogue & Jewish Community

WATCH: Holocaust Denial, Anti-Semitic Threats Soaring on …

Posted By on February 24, 2018

The WJC-commissioned study, made in collaboration with Vigo Social Intelligenceis titled Anti-Semitic Symbols and Holocaust Denial in Social Media Posts: January 2018. Itreveals a dramatic increase in the number of incidents already in 2018 compared with the same period in 2016, with the U.S. and Europe leading the way.

The study is a follow-up to an initialsurvey released in 2016. It was intended to cover the period between January 1-24, which holds significant importance leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and coinciding with the World Jewish Congress 2018 We Remember campaign, the organization said.

Key findings of the report indicate that 30 percent more posts using anti-Semitic symbols were recorded during this time frame, along with twice the number of conversations denying the Holocaust.

As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, this is not the first time Twitter specifically has been accused of hosting vile content that has ultimately been exposed by activists.

Last year an Israeli-born Jewish comedian in Germany daubed anti-Semitic tweets on the street outside Twitters headquarters in Hamburg to draw attention to the social media giants inaction in tackling online hate.

Slurs including Jewish Pig, Lets gas some Jews together and Gays to Auschwitz were chosen to be spray-painted byShahak Shapira.

Shapira produced a YouTube video to highlight his protest called #HEYTWITTER, in which he claims that he has reported almost 300 obnoxioustweets and more than 150 hate comments to Facebook so far this year. Shapira saysaround 80 percent were removed, but has only have received nine answers for Twitter.

Now the latest report shows that between January 1-24, 550 social media posts each day, and 23 per hour, contained neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols. An average of 108 posts each day, or 4.5 per hour, denied the Holocaust, and 13,200 posts during the period included symbols or signs related to the Holocaust or Hitlers Nazi regime.

Just over a third of content containing anti-Semitic symbols originated in the United States, according to the report, and a full 68per cent of Holocaust denial.

Poland, Serbia and Switzerland were catapulted into the top ten countries for the first time, while the survey found an approximate daily average of 550 posts containing the use of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols.

WJC CEO Robert Singer called on social media giants to rein in anti-Semitic content on their platforms.

It is easy to believe that anti-Semitism online is reserved for fringe elements, but the true scale of the problem is frightening, he said. Today, nobody has to go looking for such hatred it is in plain sight on the worlds most heavily used sites: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

It is incumbent upon these companies to show moral corporate responsibility and abide by their own guidelines restricting hate speech. We urge governments to strictly regulate this issue to curb its proliferation, and make the digital world a safer space for all.


WATCH: Holocaust Denial, Anti-Semitic Threats Soaring on …

GoSephardic: Bringing Sephardic Communities Together on a …

Posted By on February 23, 2018

Sephardic Jewry is a culture that spans across the globe in many different areas. To every Sephardic Jew who exists, their unique Sephardic heritage prevails as one of the most important features in their everyday lives.

GoSephardic is an organization that began in 2006 by Rabbi Chaim Levythat aims to highlight the beauty of Sephardic Jewry as a whole. GoSephardics mission is to empower Sephardic communities to explore and experience its rich wisdom and traditions. In doing so, individuals can live connected lives with themselves, spouses, parents, and each other.

GoSephardics nationwide platform cultivates social networks through their exciting programs. Some of GoSephardics highlighted programs include trips abroad that give a relevant and inspiring Jewish experience to the Sephardim of today. GoSephardic is truly a global organization. Their influance is felt strongly in Los Angeles California, Brooklyn and Great Neck New York, and Montreal, Canada.

GoSephardic hopes to give their members a fresh and relevant look at what it is to be a modern religious Jew in hopes that they themselves become leaders and make an impact on their communities. Those who participate experience a fresh and relevant look at being Sephardic Jews, in hopes of sparking a flame of inspiration, bringing out leadership, and even impacting their communities.

One of the programs that Go Sephardic is best known for is its trips. They have a few different options when it comes to their well planned and joyful adventures. Go Sephardic organizes a trip to Israel for adults ranging from ages 18 to 29 years old. This trip brings Sephardim from NY and LA, both men and women of all backgrounds, together to experience Israel and all of its spiritual and physical beauty. Another trip they organize is for young adults ages 24 to 36, to exotic locations.They also organize a young adultstrip which takes place in Morocco for individuals ranging from ages 24 to 36 years old. Attendees this yearget to explore five different cities in Morocco while learning about the rich culture of the Sephardic Jews that live there to this day.

Being a single young adult can have its challenges. Namely, it is challenging to meet new friends and potential matches after leaving school.Trips such as GoSephardics creates friendships that usually expands ones real life social network, and in some cases, help find companionship that can last a lifetime. Well over125 Shidduchim to date have resulted from previous trips and interactions with GoSephardic Rabbis.

Individuals are encouraged to join their trips either on their own or with a friend. Attendees should come with an open mind to having new experiences and meeting people from outside their general network or community. Prices vary depending on which trip you choose and what city youre departing from. Tours, kosher meals, and hotel stays are included in the cost of a trip.

Camp Gesher is another trip option Go Sephardic provides as well. Each year, Go Sephardic sends a team of passionate young adults to Israel to form a summer camp and spread light, hope, and love in the lives of the underprivileged children from Neve Michael Childrens Home. By joining this trip, you are agreeing to roll up your sleeves and put in the work to make children in need happy.

The children look forward to this every year and its a truly unique experience in which the Go Sephardic participants get a chance to make a real difference. Some classes and lectures must be attended by those wishing to join. These include leadership lessons, basic Hebrew lessons, stay positive workshops, and many more.

GoSephardic Rabbis are relatable and allow you to be yourself. People from all different backgrounds come together for these various international experiences to gather Chizuk. It results in an incredible sense of unity, many describing it as a freeing experience.

We aim to light a spark of inspiration that lasts a lifetime. explained Rabbi Sabbah of GoSephardic.

GoSephardic has local classes and workshops for married couples as well. These programs include practical Shiurs about Shalom Bayit and raising children. GoSephardic hopes to impart helpful tools to young Sephardic couples through their various classes and workshops. In Los Angeles, CA, GoSephardic will be launching their yearly retreat for young couples that is open to all. It is a weekend getaway that emphasized the need to take care of themselves and also to connect and be inspired by their religion and community.

Another incredible part of the GoSephardic organization is its app calledInstaRabbi. This app is good for both Sephardim and Ashkenazim who find themselves in situations where theyre not sure what the Halachically correct thing to do is in various situations. Some may feel guilty contacting their local rabbi over small issues. Others have philosophical questions that they feel unable to ask their Rabbis in person, InstaRabbi is there to field those questions as well.

InstaRabbi takes your orthodox Jewish observance to the next level by making sure you never again have to act as your own rabbi when you dont know what to do.Simply download the app and submit a question. The waiting period isnt long before you receive a response from one of their high-quality and dedicated staff of rabbis. The rabbis of InstaRabbi are committed to enhancing halachic observance throughout the world.

To learn more about GoSephardic and to donate, get involved, and get connected, head to!

Frieda Schweky is Sephardic.Org’s official community events reporter. For inquiries and to get involved with our site, please contact Frieda via email.

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GoSephardic: Bringing Sephardic Communities Together on a …

A Sephardic Pilgrims Progress | Jewish Week

Posted By on February 23, 2018

The Jews of Cceres must have been in absolutely terrific shape.

That was my thought upon scaling the vertiginous steps that lead from the Plaza Mayor in that Spanish city to the medieval Jewish quarter. For roughly 250 years between the Christian reconquest of Cceres in 1229, and the expulsion of non-Christians in the late 1400s a Jewish community of cobblers, tailors, metalsmiths, doctors and rabbis crossed the plaza, passed under the shadow of the Arco de la Estrella and entered the walled city.

Inside the Roman-era walls, an austere labyrinth of steps, 15th-century palaces, more steps, quiet plazas, ancient arches and even more steps lead to the Barrio San Antonio, where several hundred Jews once lived.

They climbed those steps daily without benefit of the modern stimulants we rely on: coffee, chocolate, pizza with tomatoes. All of those ingredients come from the New World, which was unknown during the Sephardic Golden Age.

Back then, its likely they enjoyed the flavors you still find in traditional Cceres shops chestnuts, honey, figs and cherries, grown on local hillsides and convent gardens and prepared in everything from pastry to liqueur.

Cceres. Wikimedia Commons

They are recipes that, like Sephardic Jewry, predate Spain itself, which only came into formal statehood when the Sephardim of Iberia were cast into Mediterranean exile in the late 1400s, around the same time Columbus was discovering coffee beans in the Caribbean.

But Cceres was a civilization way, way before that. In the Cuevas de Maltravieso, just outside the city center, you can see cave paintings from 27,000 years ago, the late Paleolithic period. Many centuries later, Cceres was an outpost of the Roman province of Lusitania; the oldest remaining structures were built between 200 and 400 C.E.

For roughly a half-millennium, Cceres was controlled by Moors, who rebuilt the city they conquered with lavish palaces and more than 30 towers that remain from the Caliphate.

All of which suggests that Cceres was once far more strategic than it is today. Modern Cceres, the capital of Spains Extremadura region, is centrally located only if youre driving from Madrid to Lisbon: it lies about halfway, amid the sierras and plateaus of Spains rugged, sparsely populated far West.

Today Cceres attracts pilgrims of various stripes, from Catholics on the Camino de Santiago to Jews exploring a stop on the Spanish Camino de Sefarad, the Jewish heritage itinerary route. In a municipal territory nearly three times larger than Madrid, it has just a fraction of the population (about 100,000).

A former synagogue building in Cceres. Photos by Wikimedia Commons

It may well have more palaces per capita, too. Grand stone villas and turreted towers give medieval Cceres a distinctly regal feel; breaks in the Roman wall offer sweeping views over terracotta rooftops. One Renaissance-era gem, the Palacio de la Isla, was built on the site of a former synagogue, and you can still see Stars of David and Hebrew inscriptions in the courtyard.

Another synagogue from the Middle Ages, later Catholicized as the Hermitage of San Antonio, is tucked into the Barrio de San Antonio. Its faade, a mix of stucco and stonework, is typical of the whitewashed back alleys in this sleepy quarter, where flowerpots and bougainvillea offer bursts of color.

Greenery is scarce in the casco antiguo, or historic core, but an oasis awaits at the edge of the Jewish quarter. On a steep, sandy hillside is a garden known as the Olivar de la Judera (Jews olive grove), surrounded by houses once occupied by Sephardim.

Nearby are other clues to a Jewish past: the plaque in Plaza de Pereros, which recalls a poignant Sephardic appeal to Queen Isabella; several Stars of David built into the cobblestones of Calle Quebrada, commemorating the onetime residents of that district.

Only 14 years before the Jews final expulsion, the community was forcibly relocated to a new Jewish quarter, outside the walled city. To trace their steps, cross the Plaza Mayor to the opposite side from the Arco de la Estrella into the dark, shadowy Calle del General Ezponda.

Here, in contrast to the turreted esplanades of the walled city, narrow walls block out the sun amid a flutter of laundry lines. Within a few blocks, medieval Cceres gives way to the prosaic cement high-rises of the modern city.

The new Jewish quarter, as it was known, was a comedown both literally and metaphorically, but it didnt last long. The sharp decline of Iberian Jewry mirrored the slower decline of Spain itself, leaving behind towers and turrets from a lost Golden Age.

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Yemenite singer to highlight Sephardic Festival in Boca Raton

Posted By on February 23, 2018

Two concerts, a cooking demonstration and a scholar in residence highlight the upcoming Sephardic Festival taking place from March 4-17 at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton .

Also in early March will be two Jewish-themed plays being performed in South Florida. “Kindertransport” is being shown both at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd. in Pompano Beach from March 2-18 and the Sunrise Civic Center Theatre, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd in Sunrise, from March 24-25.

The comedy “Handle With Care” about the relationship between an Israeli woman and an American man will be shown at the Levis Jewish Community Center Sandler Center, 21050 95th Ave. South from March 1-11. For tickets and additional information, call 561-558-2520 or go to

The unique music of Yemenite singer Ravid Kahalani and his musicians from New York, Israel and Uruguay performing as “Yemen Blues” will be the major concert highlight of the festival on March 7 at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m very excited to bring to stage the Yemen Blues. Their music adds such a breath of fresh air to the Yemenite and Sephardic Jewish music scene,” said Cantor Udi Spielman of B’nai Torah Congregation.

“As Ravid Kahalani says in his song ‘Um Min Al Yaman,’ it doesn’t matter where you come from, your language is my language. His message is especially welcome in light of current events,” said Spielman.

The Sephardic Festival opens on March 4 at 9:30 a.m. with workshops to experience Sephardic Jewish traditions.

Throughout the day, there will be stations on the congregation campus that will feature Sephardic foods, such as Sephardic charoset, Moroccan carrots, couscous and Yemenite stew.

Those attending on March 4 also will learn about Sephardic customs and traditions, including fine art items, such as evil eye stained glass.

Also highlighted at the Sephardic Festival will be a March 13 concert at 7:30 p.m. with singer Chaim Parchi singing folk songs from Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Yemenite traditions.

The festival closes on March 16 and 17 with scholar in residence Dr. Benjamin Gampel speaking to the congregation over Shabbat on “The History of the Jews in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras.”

For more information on the Sephardic Festival at B’nai Torah Congregation, 6261 S.W. 18 St. in Boca Raton, call 561-392-8566 or go to

As a special commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, Kindertransport survivors who reside in South Florida participated in a question and answer session following the presentation of the drama “My Heart in a Suitcase” at the Levis JCC Sandler Center.

Between 1938 and the outbreak of World War II, close to 10,000 children were sent by their parents from Germany to Great Britain to escape the the Kindertransport.

There were three presentations of “My Heart in a Suitcase” for students from Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Katz Hillel Day School and Torah Academy of Boca Raton in addition to congregants from B’nai Torah Congregation, Congregation B’nai Israel and Temple Beth El.

The Curtain Call Playhouse production of the Diane Samuels play “Kindertransport” involves three characters: Eva, her mother and Eva’s daughter many years later. Eva, a nine year old child, is sent by her parents from Germany to England by the Kindertransport.

When Eva’s parents fail to escape, she changes her name and begins the process of denying her roots.

The play reaches a climax when Eva’s teen daughter, many years later, finds old letters in the attic and forces Eva to reveal a surprising revelation to both her daughter and the audience.

“‘Kindertransport’ is a play of exceptional depth and emotional intelligence,” wrote theatre critic Charles Spencer in “The Telegraph.”

For tickets, call 954-784-0768 or go to

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Yemenite singer to highlight Sephardic Festival in Boca Raton

Recipe: Fish With Sephardic Tomato & Rhubarb Sauce

Posted By on February 23, 2018

Fish With Sephardic Tomato & Rhubarb Sauce

Serves 6

With rhubarb just hitting the markets, this dish is perfect for the Passover table. According to The New Mediterranean Jewish Table, by Joyce Goldstein, the dish can be traced back to Sephardic homes in Greece and Turkey. The sauce has sweet-and-sour notes to brighten the fish, and Goldstein suggests serving it with spinach and potatoes.

Rhubarb sauce

1 pounds rhubarb

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 3 cups chopped, seeded canned tomatoes

1 cup dry red wine

1 to 2 tablespoons honey

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (optional)

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Court bouillon

4 cups water

1 cup dry white wine

1 large yellow onion, sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 ribs celery with leaves attached, and/or 2 large slices celery root, peeled

3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

10 to 12 black peppercorns

3 lemon slices

Few fresh ginger slices (optional)

2 pounds firm fish fillets, such as cod, sea flounder, bass or salmon

To make the rhubarb sauce: Clean the rhubarb stalks by pulling off the heavy filaments, much as you would string celery, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a saucepan, add water to barely cover (about 3 cups), and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the rhubarb has melted into a puree and is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. (If you want some crunch in the sauce, set aside some of the rhubarb pieces after a few minutes of cooking, then return them to the sauce when it is ready.)

Warm the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the wine, 1 tablespoon of the honey, and the lemon zest and juice, if using, and stir well. Add the tomato sauce to the rhubarb puree, or vice versa, and mix well. Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce is thick and rich, about 20 minutes. Season with the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the sweet-and-sour balance, add a bit more honey if needed. Cover and keep warm, off the heat.

To make the court bouillon: In a fish poacher or roasting pan, combine all of the ingredients for the court bouillon (do not include the fish). Bring to a boil over high heat, turn down the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

To make the fish: Measure the thickness of the fillets at their widest point. Slip the fillets into the simmering liquid, cover, reduce the heat to very low so that bubbles barely break on the surface and poach until the fillets test done when the point of a knife is inserted into a fillet, about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Using a slotted spatula, carefully transfer the fillets to a platter or individual plates. Reheat the sauce gently, then spoon some of the sauce over the fish and serve warm. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.

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Recipe: Fish With Sephardic Tomato & Rhubarb Sauce

The Term Sephardic Jew –

Posted By on February 23, 2018

By Sarina Roff

People often ask me to define the term Sephardic Jew. The answer is complicated. No, it does not mean from Spain, although that is the commonly understood definition.

It also does not mean anyone who is not Ashkenazi. For example, Jews who migrated to Italy during the time of Judah Maccabee or as slaves under Julius Caesar do not think of themselves as Sephardic. Neither do Greek or Persian Jews.

Do they use Sephardic liturgy? Yes. Sephardic texts? Yes. Common religious customs? Yes.

But these groups do not think of themselves as Sephardim. So who is a Sephardic Jew?

According to references in Genesis 10:3 and Obadiah 1:20, the lands called Sepharad were in areas north of the Holy Land, and were not necessarily in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. If you define a Sephardic Jew as someone who can trace himself back to Spain before 1492, when the Jews were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, then you must still consider the ancestry of the Spanish Jews.

They were the descendants of Jews who came in waves to the Iberian Peninsula from modern-day Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Syria and across North Africa. Arabic was the principal language in large sections of Spain until the Christian conquests and was used by Jews for daily communication and religious practice.

In other words, Sephardic Jews traveled to Spain from the Middle East, then returned to the Middle East before spreading to North Africa and beyond. Today, the term Sephardic has come to be accepted as a reference to Jews whose ancestors settled in countries around the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Balkans, Italy and the Levant, as well as Jews who already lived in those places.

Have I settled this? Or are you more confused now than you were before? Do you understand how to define a Sephardic Jews? Probably notbut thats ok, academics cant agree on it either.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.


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The Term Sephardic Jew –

ashkenazi | Koos Jan Schouten’s Blog

Posted By on February 22, 2018

Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaAshkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim ( Standard Hebrew, Akanazi, Akanazim, Tiberian Hebrew, Aknz, Aknzm, pronounced sing. [aknazi] pl. [aknazim], not with [] as in Tzar), are Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland.

Many later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in Germany, Poland, Russia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere between the 10th and 19th centuries. From medieval times until the mid-20th century, the lingua franca among Ashkenazi Jews was Yiddish or Slavic languages such as Knaanic (now defunct), and they developed a distinct culture and liturgy influenced by interaction with surrounding nations.

Although in the 11th century they comprised only 3% of the worlds Jewish population, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for (at their highest) 92% of the worlds Jews in 1931 and today make up approximately 80% of Jews worldwide. [5] Most Jewish communities with extended histories in Europe are Ashkenazim, with the exception of those associated with the Mediterranean region. A significant portion of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Eastern Ashkenazim, particularly in the United States.

Who is an Ashkenazi Jew?

At a time when Jews from around the world no longer agree on who is a Jew, it is hard to agree on who is an Ashkenazi Jew. An Ashkenazi Jew can be defined religiously, culturally, or ethnically. But distinctions that were clear a generation or two ago are vanishing. And in recent years, the term Ashkenazi Jew has taken on a completely different meaning in Israel.

Religious definition

In a religious sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is any Jew whose family tradition and ritual follows Ashkenazi practice. When the Ashkenazi community first began to develop in the Middle Ages, the centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at Baghdad and in Islamic Spain. Ashkenaz was so distant geographically that it developed a minhag of its own, and Ashkenazi Hebrew came to be pronounced in ways distinct from other forms of Hebrew.

In this respect, the counterpart of Ashkenazi is Sephardic, since most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews follow Sephardic rabbinical authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By tradition, a Sephardic or Mizrahi woman who marries into an Orthodox or Haredi Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi Jews, and a gentile who converts to Judaism and takes on Ashkenazi religious practices becomes an Ashkenazi Jew.

Jewish law or Halaka does not define who is a Jew confessionally, by faith. No central authority or ruling body in Judaism determines who is a Jew. Nor does membership in a synagogue or local Jewish community make one a Jew. Furthermore, a person who no longer wishes to be a Jew is still considered to be Jewish. It should come as no surprise that many famous Ashkenazi Jews have denied being Jewish. The following examples illustrate this aspect of Jewish identity.

Apostasy. A Jew who converts to another religion is considered an apostate, but he is still a Jew. Felix Mendelssohn, who converted to Protestantism and dedicated a symphony to the Reformation was an Ashkenazi Jew.

Atheism. A Jew who becomes an atheist is still considered a Jew. Karl Marx, an atheist whose Jewish mother and father had converted to Christianity before he was born, was an Ashkenazi Jew.

Hidden Identity. A Jew whose identity was hidden, who was raised in another religion, is still a Jew. Madeleine Albright, the former American Secretary of State whose Jewish parents converted to Catholicism to escape persecution in the Holocaust and then hid their ancestry, is an Ashkenazi Jew by a traditional halakic definition, even though she did not know of her identity until she became an adult, and was already a professing Catholic.

Renunciation. A Jew who renounces and even condemns Judaism is still a Jew. Bobby Fischer, the international chess star who has claimed that the Holocaust was a Jewish invention and a lie, is an Ashkenazi Jew.

With the reintegration of Jews from around the world in Israel, North America, and other places, the religious definition of an Ashkenazi Jew is blurring, especially outside of Orthodox Judaism. Many Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews have joined liberal movements that originally developed within Ashkenazi Judaism. At least in recent decades, the congregations they have joined have often embraced them, and absorbed new traditions into their minhag. Rabbis and Cantors in all non-Orthodox movements study Hebrew in Israel, learning Sephardic rather than Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation. Ashkenazi congregations are adopting Sephardic or modern Israeli melodies for many prayers and traditional songs. Since the middle of the 20th century there has been a gradual syncretism and fusion of traditions, and this is affecting the minhag of all but the most traditional congregations.

New developments in Judaism often transcend differences in religious practice between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. For example, there has been increased interest in Kaballah in recent years. Judaism is an evolving religious tradition in which new layers of commentary are constantly being added to the existing body of literature. Even portions of the scripture that have been canonized, like the Tanakh, are constantly being offered in new editions and translations, with new interpretations. Another trend is the new popularity of ecstatic worship in the Jewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach style minyan, both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin.[6]

Cultural definition

In a cultural sense, an Ashkenazi Jew can be identified by the concept of Yiddishkeit, a word that literally means Jewishness in the Yiddish language. Of course, there are other kinds of Jewishness. Yiddishkeit is simply the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews. Before the Haskalah and the emancipation of Jews in Europe, this meant the study of Torah and Talmud for men, and a family and communal life governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the Rhineland to Riga to Romania, most Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew, and spoke some dialect of Yiddish in their secular lives.

But with modernization, Yiddishkeit now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and Hasidism, but a broad range of movements, ideologies, practices, and traditions in which Ashkenazi Jews have participated and somehow retained a sense of Jewishness. Although few Jews still speak Yiddish, Yiddishkeit can be identified in manners of speech, in styles of humor, in patterns of association. Broadly speaking, a Jew is one who associates culturally with Jews, supports Jewish institutions, reads Jewish books and periodicals, attends Jewish movies and theater, travels to Israel, visits ancient synagogues in Prague, and so forth.

The existence of Israel is creating a new Jewishness that transcends Yiddishkeit and other definitions of Jewishness. To an older generation, Jewish food is chopped liver and gefiltefish, but to younger generation it is hummus and falafel.

Ethnic definition

In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews of central and eastern Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazi Jews were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have identified certain haplotypes in Y-Chromosome and mitochondrial studies that have high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population.

But since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths. Jews have also adopted children from around the world and raised them as Jews. Conversion to Judaism, rare for nearly 1500 years, has once again become common. Jewish women and families who choose artificial insemination often choose a biological father who is not Jewish, to avoid common autosomal recessive genetic diseases. Orthodox religious authorities actually encourage this, because of the danger that a Jewish donor could be a momzer. Thus, the concept of Ashkenazi Jews as a distinct ethnic people, especially in ways that can be defined genetically or ancestrally, has also blurred considerably.

Realignment in Israel

In Israel the term Ashkenazi is now used in ways that have nothing to do with its original meaning. In practice, the label Ashkenazi is often applied to all Jews living in Israel of European origin, including those whose ethnic background is actually Sephardic. Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi, Yemenite, Kurdish, and others having no connection at all with the Iberian Peninsula, have come to be lumped together as Sephardic. Jews of mixed ancestry are increasingly common, because of intermarriage between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi partners, and they sometimes self-identify or reject such labels altogether.

Israel is a complex society in which competing social, economic, and religious interests stand for election to the Knesset, a unicameral legislature with 120 seats. Each political party in Israel produces a list, and members stand for election as a party. Since Israel is a democracy, all citizens are voters, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, or Samaritan. After an election is held, the party with the most seats negotiates with other parties to create a majority coalition.

A portion of the Israeli electorate votes for Jewish religious parties. Although the electoral map changes from one election to another, there are generally several small parties associated with the interests of Ashkenazi religious Jews. Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakic matters. In this respect, an Ashkenazi Jew is an Israeli who supports certain political parties and religious interests in Israel.

References for Who is an Ashkenazi Jew?

Goldberg, Harvey E. (2001): The Life of Judaism. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21267-3

Silberstein, Laurence (2000): Mapping Jewish Identities. New York University Press. ISBN 0-814-79769-5

Wettstein, Howard. (2002): Diasporas and Exiles: Varieties of Jewish Identity. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22864-2

Wex, Michael. (2005): Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods. St. Martins Press. ISBN 0-312-30741-1

Origins of Ashkenazim

Although the historical record itself is very limited, there is a consensus of cultural, linguistic, and genetic evidence that the Ashkenazi Jewish population originated in the Middle East. When they arrived in northern France and the Rhineland sometime around 800-1000 CE, the Ashkenazi Jews brought with them both Rabbinic Judaism and the Babylonian Talmudic culture that underlies it. The Yiddish language, once spoken by the vast majority of Ashkenazi Jewry, is heavily influenced by Hebrew and Aramaic, but not by Greek or Latin. Recent research in human genetics has also demonstrated that a significant component of Ashkenazi ancestry is Middle Eastern.

Background in the Roman Empire

After the forced Jewish exile from Jerusalem in 70 CE and the complete Roman takeover of Judea following the Bar Kochba rebellion of 132-135 CE, Jews continued to be a majority of the population in Palestine for several hundred years. However, the Romans no longer recognized the authority of the Sanhedrin or any other Jewish body, and Jews were prohibited from living in Jerusalem. Outside the Roman Empire, a large Jewish community remained in Mesopotamia. Other Jewish populations could be found dispersed around the Mediterranean region, with the largest concentrations in the Levant, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, including Rome itself. Smaller communities are recorded in southern Gaul (France), Spain, and North Africa.

Jews were denied full Roman citizenship until 212 CE, when Emperor Caracalla granted all free peoples this privilege. However as a penalty for the first Jewish Revolt, Jews were still required to pay a poll tax until the reign of Emperor Julian in 363 CE. In the late Roman Empire, Jews were still free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into various local occupations. But after Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople, Jews were increasingly marginalized.

In Palestine and Mesopotamia, where Jewish religious scholarship was centered, the majority of Jews were still engaged in farming, as demonstrated by the preoccupation of early Talmudic writings with agriculture. In diaspora communities, trade was a common occupation, facilitated by the easy mobility of traders through the dispersed Jewish communities.

Throughout this period and into the early Middle Ages, many Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to Christianity. In Palestine and Mesopotamia, the spoken language of Jews continued to be Aramaic, but elsewhere in the diaspora, most Jews spoke Greek. Conversion and assimilation were especially common within the Hellenized or Greek speaking Jewish communities, amongst whom the Septuagint and Aquila of Sinope (Greek translations and adaptations of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible) were the source of scripture. A remnant of this Greek speaking Jewish population (the Romaniotes) survives to this day.

The Germanic invasions of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century by tribes such as the Visigoths, Franks, Lombards, and Vandals caused massive economic and social instability within the western Empire, contributing to its decline. In the late Roman Empire, Jews are known to have lived in Cologne and Trier, as well as in what is now France. However, it is unclear whether there is any continuity between these late Roman communities and the distinct Ashkenazi Jewish culture that began to emerge about 500 years later. King Dagobert of the Franks expelled the Jews from his Merovingian kingdom in 629. Jews in former Roman territories now faced new challenges as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.

Rabbinic Judaism moves to Ashkenaz

In Mesopotamia, in Persian lands free of Roman imperial domination, Jewish life fared much better. Since the conquest of Judea by Nebuchadrezzar II, this community had always been the leading diaspora community, a rival to the leadership of Palestine. After conditions for Jews began to deteriorate in Roman controlled lands, many of the religious leaders of Judea and the Galilee fled to the east. At the academies of Pumbeditha and Sura near Babylon, Rabbinic Judaism based on Talmudic learning began to emerge and assert its authority over Jewish life throughout the diaspora. Rabbinic Judaism created a religious mandate for literacy, requiring all Jewish males to learn Hebrew and read from the Torah. This emphasis on literacy and learning a second language would eventually be of great benefit to the Jews, allowing them to take on commercial and financial roles within Gentile societies where literacy was often quite low.

After the Islamic conquest of the Middle East and North Africa, new opportunities for trade and commerce opened between the Middle East and western Europe. The vast majority of Jews in the world now lived in Islamic lands. Urbanization, trade, and commerce within the Islamic world allowed Jews, as a highly literate people, to abandon farming and live in cities, engaging in occupations where they could use their skills.[7] The influential, sophisticated, and well organized Jewish community of Mesopotamia, now centered in Baghdad, became the center of the Jewish world. In the Caliphate of Baghdad, Jews took on many of the financial occupations that they would later hold in the cities of Ashkenaz. Jewish traders from Baghdad began to travel to the west, renewing Jewish life in the western Mediterranean region. They brought with them Rabbinic Judaism and Babylonian Talmudic scholarship.

After 800 CE, Charlemagnes unification of former Frankish lands with northern Italy and Rome brought on a brief period of stability and unity in western Europe. This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle once again north of the Alps. Charlemagne granted the Jews in his lands freedoms similar to those once enjoyed under the Roman Empire. Returning once again to Frankish lands, many Jewish merchants took on occupations in finance and commerce, including moneylending or usury. (Church legislation banned Christians from lending money in exchange for interest.) From Charlemagnes time on to the present, there is a well documented record of Jewish life in northern Europe, and by the 11th century, when Rashi of Troyes wrote his commentaries, Ashkenazi Jews had emerged also as interpreters and commentators on the Torah and Talmud.

DNA clues

Efforts to identify the origins of Ashkenazi Jews through DNA analysis began in the 1990s. Like most DNA studies of human migration patterns, these studies have focused on two segments of the human genome, the Y chromosome (inherited only by males), and the mitochondrial genome (DNA which passes from mother to child). Both segments are unaffected by recombination. Thus, they provide an indicator of paternal and maternal origins, respectively.

A study of haplotypes of the Y chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al[8] found that the Y chromosome of most Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews was of Middle Eastern origin, containing mutations that are also common among Palestinians and other Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced primarily to the Middle East.

The first research on Ashkenazi maternal ancestry was less conclusive. A 2002 study by Goldstein et al[9] found that the womens origins cannot be genetically determined, but that his own speculation was that most Jewish communities were formed by unions between Jewish men and local women.

More recent research indicates that a significant portion of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry is also of Middle Eastern origin. A 2006 study by Behar et al[10], based on haplotype analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women. These four founder lineages were likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool originating in the Near East in the first and second centuries CE. According to the authors, The observed global pattern of distribution renders very unlikely the possibility that the four aforementioned founder lineages entered the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool via gene flow from a European host population.

Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium. [11][12]

Ashkenazi migrations throughout the High and Late Middle Ages

Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the Alps and Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th Century. (Cochran et. al., p.11) By the early 900s, Jewish populations were well-established in Northern Europe, and later followed the Norman Conquest into England in 1066, also settling in the Rhineland. With the onset of the Crusades, and the expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (1400s), Jewish migration pushed eastward into Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to Christian European prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, and preventing certain financial activities (such as usurious loans) between Christians. (Ben-Sasson, H. (1976) A History of the Jewish People. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.)

By the 1400s, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora [13]. It would remain that way until the Holocaust.

Usage of the name

In reference to the Jewish peoples of Northern Europe and particularly the Rhineland, the word Ashkenazi is often found in medieval rabbinic literature. References to Ashkenaz in Yosippon and Hasdais letter to the king of the Khazars would date the term as far back as the tenth century, as would also Saadia Gaons commentary on Daniel 7:8.

The word Ashkenaz first appears in the genealogy in the Tanakh (Genesis 10) as a son of Gomer and grandson of Japheth. It is thought that the name originally applied to the Scythians (Ishkuz), who were called Ashkuza in Assyrian inscriptions, and lake Ascanius and the region Ascania in Anatolia derive their names from this group. The Ashkuza have also been linked to the Oghuz branch of Turks including nearly all Turkic peoples today from Turkey to Turkmenistan.

Ashkenaz in later Hebrew tradition became identified with the peoples of Germany, and in particular to the area along the Rhine where the Alamanni tribe once lived (compare the French and Spanish words Allemagne and Alemania, respectively, for Germany).

The autonym was usually Yidn, however.

Medieval references

In the first half of the eleventh century, Hai Gaon refers to questions that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly means Germany. Rashi in the latter half of the eleventh century refers to both the language of Ashkenaz (Commentary on Deuteronomy 3:9; idem on Talmud tractate Sukkah 17a) and the country of Ashkenaz (Talmud, Hullin 93a). During the twelfth century the word appears quite frequently. In the Mahzor Vitry, the kingdom of Ashkenaz is referred to chiefly in regard to the ritual of the synagogue there, but occasionally also with regard to certain other observances (ib. p. 129).

In the literature of the thirteenth century references to the land and the language of Ashkenaz often occur. See especially Solomon ben Aderets Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of Asher ben Jehiel (pp. 4, 6); his Halakot (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p. 10); the work of his son Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orach Chayim (chapter 59); the Responsa of Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270).

In the Midrash compilation Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Berechiah mentions Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands. It may correspond to a Greek word that may have existed in the Greek dialect of the Palestinian Jews, or the text is corrupted from Germanica. This view of Berechiah is based on the Talmud (Yoma 10a; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 71b), where Gomer, the father of Ashkenaz, is translated by Germamia, which evidently stands for Germany, and which was suggested by the similarity of the sound.

In later times the word Ashkenaz is used to designate southern and western Germany, the ritual of which sections differs somewhat from that of eastern Germany and Poland. Thus the prayer-book of Isaiah Horowitz, and many others, give the piyyutim according to the Minhag of Ashkenaz and Poland.

Customs, laws and traditions

The Halakhic practices of Ashkenazi Jews may differ from those of Sephardi Jews, particularly in matters of custom. Differences are noted in the Shulkhan Arukh itself, in the gloss of Moses Isserles. Well known differences in practice include:

Observance of Pesach (Passover): Ashkenazi Jews traditionally refrain from eating legumes, corn, millet, and rice, whereas Sephardi Jews typically do not prohibit these foods.

In the case of kashrut for meat, conversely, Sephardi Jews have stricter requirements this level is commonly referred to as Beth Yosef. Meat products which are acceptable to Ashkenazi Jews as kosher may therefore be rejected by Sephardi Jews. Notwithstanding stricter requirements for the actual slaughter, Sephardi Jews permit the rear portions of an animal after proper Halakhic removal of the sciatic nerve, while many Ashkenazi Jews do not. This is not because of different interpretations of the law; rather, slaughterhouses could not find adequate skills for correct removal of the sciatic nerve and found it more economical to separate the hindquarters and sell them as non-kosher meat.

Ashkenazi Jews frequently name newborn children after deceased family members, but not after living relatives. Sephardi Jews, on the other hand, often name their children after the childrens grandparents, even if those grandparents are still living. (See Sephardi Names). A notable exception to this generally reliable rule is among Dutch Jews, where Ashkenazim for centuries used the naming conventions otherwise attributed exclusively to Sephardim. (See Chuts.)

Ashkenazi Jews have a custom for the bride and groom to refrain from meeting one week prior to their wedding.

Relationship to other Jews

The term Ashkenazi also refers to the nusach (Hebrew, liturgical tradition) used by Ashkenazi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical traditions choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers.

This phrase is often used in contrast with Sephardi Jews, also called Sephardim, who are descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal. There are some differences in how the two groups pronounce Hebrew and in points of ritual.

Several famous people have this as a surname, such as Vladimir Ashkenazi. Ironically, most people with this surname are in fact Sephardi, and usually of Syrian Jewish background. This family name was adopted by the families who lived in Sephardi countries and were of Ashkenazic origins, after being nicknamed Ashkenazi by their respective communities. Some have shortened the name to Ash. Other spellings exist, such as Eskenazi by the Syrian Jews who relocated to Panama and other South-American Jewish communities.

Literature about the alleged Turkic origin of the Ashkenazi population appeared mainly after 1950, but it has been claimed faulty by most recent scholars.

See also: Jew, Judaism, Rabbenu Gershom

opulation genetics

Specific diseases

The Ashkenazi Jewish population has, like many other endogamous populations, a higher incidence of specific hereditary diseases. Genetic counseling and genetic testing are recommended for couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some organizations, most notably Dor Yeshorim, organize screening programs to prevent homozygosity for the genes that cause these diseases. A large number of these diseases are neurological. See Jewish Genetics Center for more information on testing programmes.

Diseases with higher incidence in Ashkenazim include, in alphabetical order:

Bloom syndrome

Breast cancer and ovarian cancer (due to higher distribution of BRCA1 and BRCA2).

Canavan disease

Colorectal cancer due to hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (non-classical form)

Crohns disease (the NOD2/CARD15 locus appears to be implicated)

Cystic fibrosis

Familial dysautonomia (Riley-Day Syndrome)

Fanconi anemia

Gauchers disease

Hemophilia C

Mucolipidosis IV

Niemann-Pick disease

Pemphigus vulgaris

Tay-Sachs disease

Torsion dystonia

Von Gierke disease

Modern history

In an essay on Sephardi Jewry, Daniel Elazar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs [14] summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi Jews in the last thousand years, noting that at the end of the 11th Century, 97% of world Jewry was Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazic; in the mid-seventeenth century, Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two, but by the end of the 18th Century Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim three to two, the result of improved living conditions in Christian Europe as against the Muslim world. [15] By 1931, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for nearly 92 percent of world Jewry. [16]

Ashkenazi Jews developed the Hasidic movement as well as major Jewish academic centers across Poland, Russia, and Lithuania in the generations after emigration from the west. After two centuries of comparative tolerance in the new nations, massive westward emigration occurred in the 1800s and 1900s in response to pogroms and the economic opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi Jews have made up the majority of the American Jewish community since 1750 [17].

Ashkenazi cultural growth led to the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment, and the development of Zionism in modern Europe.

Ashkenazi Jewry and the Holocaust

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