SELECTED LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF SEPHARDIC JEWRY
DOBRINSKY, HERBERT COLMAN
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This dissertation provides educators in North America's Junior High School and High School Yeshivot with a compendium of laws and customs of four groups of Sephardic Jews whose survival as distinctive groups within Judaism is seriously threatened. This is due to their small numbers, assimilation into the general Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and, above all, by lack of knowledge about their heritage. Each group can now learn more about their own unique observances and how other Sephardim adhere to their traditions. The teacher is provided: a suggested teaching cycle; basic Sephardic source references for topics; four model lessons; several questions and several topics for discussion for each chapter. Bibliographies in both English and Hebrew; Appendices A and B with detailed ceremonies, a listing of audio-visual materials, and a current listing of all Sephardic synagogues and schools in North America to encourage contact and interaction.;Prior to writing the dissertation, a forty-page questionnaire for personal, in-depth interviews was devised after study of the mores of several other Sephardic groups. Interviews were conducted with rabbis, educators, and learned laity whose reputations for knowledge of their respective traditions are well known. Research was conducted in America, Canada, and Israel. The material was checked by other rabbis, scholars, and lay leaders after it was written to assure accuracy. The dissertation is a general description of traditions of Jewish life followed by the Syrian, Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish, and Spanish and Portuguese Jews.;There are nine chapters. The first establishes the urgent need for such a study and demonstrates how it can strengthen self-identification and pride among Sephardic youth and adults alike. It contends that the curriculum can be adapted for adult education and Afternoon Talmud Torah High Schools. The second chapter covers the Family Cycle from birth to death with ceremonies relating to: naming a child; Circumcision; Redemption of the First Born; Adoption; Bar Mizvah; Engagement and Marriage; Divorce and Halizah; Burial, Mourning and Memorial Observances. Chapter three describes Tefillin, Zizit, and Mezuzah. Chapter four deals with Daily Life: Kashrut; Honor to parents and teachers; family relationships; husband-wife relationships, etc. Chapter five describes the gamut of synagogue life: its personnel; its appurtenances; its three daily services, Laws relating to the Sefer Torah, etc. Chapter six describes Jewish communal life, major organizations, institutions, etc. and attachments to the State of Israel. Chapter seven covers the entire Sabbath celebration. Chapter eight features all the Festivals, Holidays, and Fast Days. Chapter nine provides the summary and recommendations. The selected Bibliography will also guide the teacher. The Appendices include these ceremonies: Washing the Dead, Divorce Proceedings, Halizah Proceedings, and illustrations of Tefillin, etc. Conclusions in the Summary suggest that the only hope for the survival of the noble Sephardic heritage is through intensive Jewish education and proud identification with their rich and beautiful traditions by each group. Education alone can achieve the goal of perpetuating Sephardic Jewry. Adherence to tradition has been the major resource for the strength of continuity which has enabled Sephardic Jewry to prevail. This Teacher's Resource Manual will be a vital weapon in the hands of the teacher to combat the threat of assimilation and to reinstill the profound pride in heritage for which Sephardic Jewry is respected. The "unity in diversity" of Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewry, as expressed through their customs, will strengthen and preserve the multicolored mosaic of the One Mosaic Law.