When I was a young rabbi, I believed that the classic models of Sephardic rabbinic leadership provided a responsible and meaningful example for all of world Jewry. Nearly 50 years later, I still believe this to be true. In spite of all the negative signs that abound, I still believe this to be true.
Memoirs of a Sephardic Rabbi: A Book Review by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
“A Rocky Road,” by Rabbi Abraham Levy (with Simon Rocker), Halban Publishers, London, 2017.
Rabbi Abraham Levy has been associated with the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of London for nearly six decades. Those of us who have known him over the years have been impressed with his energy, optimism, single-mindedness, devotion, British elegance…and more.
When we ponder the hateful "white supremacist" demonstrators in Charlottesville, we ponder the strange predicament of the human race. We witness the viciousness and violence of haters; but we also witness the faith, compassion and sympathy of good people throughout the country who have demonstrated against the bigots.
(This is an article by Rabbi Marc D. Angel that originally appeared in a book he edited, From Strength to Strength, Sepher-Hermon Press, New York, 1998, pp. 21–28.)
Dr. Mendes served as Minister of Congregation Shearith Israel from 1877 through 1920. He continued to be associated with the Congregation as Minister Emeritus until his death in 1937. During the course of these 60 years, Dr. Mendes established himself as a remarkable communal leader, scholar, and author.
In an astonishingly vitriolic attack on Reform Jews, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar said that Reform Jews “deny more than Holocaust deniers…" He referred to them as "cursed evil people." Is it any wonder that so many thinking Jews are repelled by the Orthodoxy fostered by Rabbi Amar and others of his ilk?
The Literary, Social and Cultural Life of the Judeo-Spanish
Sephardim During the Immigrant Generation (Early 1900's)
By Marc D. Angel
Proceedings of a Conference in NYC April 5, 1981
Rabbi Dr. David de Sola Pool (May 16, 1885-December 1, 1970) was the foremost Sephardic rabbi in the United States during the middle decades of the 20th century. Born and raised in London, he came to New York in 1907 to become assistant rabbi to his relative, Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, at the historic Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Dr. Pool was associated with Shearith Israel for the duration of his life, except for three years that he spent in the land of Israel 1919-1922. In 1917 he married Tamar Hirshenson; they had two children, Ithiel and Naomi.
This week's Torah portion includes a strange episode. A "mixed multitude" (asafsuf) riled up the Israelites so that they complained bitterly about their situation. They longed to eat meat. They reminisced about the diet they had in Egypt--fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onion and garlic. The miraculous mannah from heaven, that was delivered to them daily in the wilderness, did not satisfy them.
The Revelation at Mount Sinai was a national experience for all the people of Israel—but it also was very personal. Each Israelite heard the same words—but in different ways!
This article is being re-posted in memory of the late Rabbi Myron Rakowitz, a long-time colleague and friend. Rabbi Rakowitz served for many years as rabbi of the Sephardic congregation in Canarsie, NY. He characterized the qualities of the Ideal Modern Orthodox Rabbi in so many ways.