Photo Credit:
Rabbi Yosef Bitton

Sometimes people claim that whenever Sephardim live as a minority among Ashkenazim, they tend to slowly lose their identity. Do you find that to be true?

No, absolutely not. The Syrians are extremely strict in keeping the traditions of their ancestors, and they’ve developed the means to perpetuate those traditions. They have schools, publications, and websites, and they instruct the youth in synagogue. The synagogues are the best schools. It’s not rare to see in most Syrian communities young people in charge of leading the prayers and the Torah reading.

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They are very conscious of the importance of the heritage they’ve received and they feel responsible to bequeath that legacy to the next generation.

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Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff writer and editor, a doctoral candidate at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School for Jewish Studies, and the author, most recently, of “Movers & Shakers, Vol. 2.”