Our Institute has an unwavering commitment to the Torah tradition and to the Jewish people. We promote a vision of Orthodox Judaism that is intellectually sound, spiritually compelling, and emotionally satisfying. Appreciating the amazing diversity within Orthodoxy, the Institute encourages responsible discussion of issues in Jewish law, philosophy, religious world-view, and communal policy.
The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals has offered classes/shiurim and has published many articles relating to the Sephardic-pan-Sephardic experience. We also have posted Sephardic-themed lectures and classes on the Institute's youtube channel. Here is a selection of articles that we offer as part of our partnership with the Israeli organization--Neemanei Torah VaAvodah--that is devoting this week and this Shabbat to exploring Sephardic themes.
Elias Canetti (1905-1994), a Bulgarian-born Sephardic Jew, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.I appreciate his keen insights into human motives and behaviors. I admire his close observation of people and places. With prophet-like clarity, he foresaw how humanity could destroy itself…or save itself from the brink.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, was not only to be a voice and a memorial for the murdered millions. His life’s mission was to serve as a conscience to the world, to remind humanity of the horrors of war and mass murder, to help humanity understand that there should never again be concentration camps, genocide, ruthless and merciless tyranny.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which several rabbis are asked to respond to questions. Rabbi Marc Angel is one of the respondents, and here are his answers that appeared in recent columns.
Although Disraeli was a Christian, a member of Parliament, a popular author, a confidant of Queen Victoria…his detractors never stopped seeing him as a Jew, an outsider, an interloper. He had to struggle against unceasing political malice and anti-Jewish malevolence. Instead of denying or de-emphasizing his Jewish roots, Disraeli flaunted his Jewishness.
There is much in Rabbi Sacks' essays to make us think. He tells us in his introduction that spirituality is not the same as religion, though the two are related. Spirituality happens when we open ourselves to something greater than ourselves.
Rabbi Heschel believed that spirituality was not simply an ethereal experience of the transcendence. Rather, it is a power that makes claims on us. It expects us to work for righteousness.
The folk wisdom and the intellectual wisdom of the Sephardim derive from the same roots. While differing in expression, they articulate many similar ideas. A culture is a living organism. It is to be expected that all who are part of it - whether tending more to the folk or to the intellectuals – will share in the culture's general worldview.
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.