Rabbi Uziel believed that the purpose of the State of Israel on the world scene is to serve as a model nation, characterized by moral excellence. Just as individuals are religiously required to participate in the life of society, the Jewish people as a nation must participate in the life of the community of nations.
We post this article on the life and thought of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, one of the great religious leaders of the 20th century. When he passed away on September 4, 1953, he was mourned by hundreds of thousands of Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Jews and Arabs. A remarkable personality, Rabbi Uziel proclaimed that Judaism is not a narrow, confined doctrine limited only to a select few individuals. It must thrive with a grand vision, always looking outward.
In this article, Dr. Zvi Zohar presents and analyzes concepts of Galut and of the modern Return to Zion found in a seminal responsum composed by Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Toledano (1880–1960). Born in Tiberias, scion of an illustrious Sephardic family in Meknès, Rabbi Toledano served as Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv from 1942 until his death.
Can we learn from the story of religious persecution and humiliation that characterized Islamic Spain? Can we learn to shape a better, more harmonious world by insisting on genuine respect, equality, decency, and theological humility among all religions? Can we afford not to learn these lessons?
A few spoons of inspired foolery can shape the way we view the world. In terrible times, dare we waste time on humor? Dare we not?
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. While scholars can list his many accomplishments and publications, the distinctive religious worldview that animated Dr. Pool’s life has remained relatively unexplored. This article will examine basic themes in Dr. Pool’s thinking, so that his unique contributions—and failures—might be better understood.
Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh of 19th century Livorno was a traditional rabbi…with a mind open to the untraditional. He was a rational, modern thinker…who fully embraced the truths of Kabbala. He was devoted to Jewish particularism…while fostering a remarkably universalistic worldview. He would not be constrained or confined by artificial intellectual categories. The ultimate unity could only be sought through all the available avenues of human thought.
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.
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.
We may find it jarring to come into contact with Jews who observe minhagim different from ours. We may think that their practices are quaint, or odd, or plain wrong....The hope is that through greater awareness and empathy, we will function as a stronger, happier, and more diverse Jewish community. We need a genuine recognition that in our various searches for Divinity, different Jewish communities have followed diverse—perfectly halakhic and proper—roads.