Cultural differences – sepharadim vs ashkenazim

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    Curious about this one for a long time – does anyone think there’ve been historical and geographic factors that have caused sharp culturally different approaches to halacha and yahadus in general between sepharadim and ashekenazim?

    Allow me to provide an example of sorts by saying that it seems to me sepharadim, culturally, are less wracked by guilt in their approach, since they never went through the same relentless bloddy persecution that ashkenazim have over the last 1,500 years or so. It strikes me that some of the flaming back and forth that goes on here over non-halachik or semi-halachik minutae would be anathema to sepharadic culture.


    Sepharadim are very strong in their Yahadut. The people with the most bitachon and emunat chachamim that I have ever come across are Sephardic. The strong ones are just as strong in their observing of Halacha as any strong Ashkenazi Jew.

    Sepharadim had the expulsion of Jews from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition and life was not always perfect for our ancestors in the Arab countries, far from perfect at times, torturous at others. My mother left her country at a very young age as did many other people I know due to dire circumstances. One woman I know was imprisoned in Syria at a very young age and tortured by the guards there. She miraculously survived to tell her story. She’s not the only one. During World War II Sephardic Jews in Europe suffered the same fate as Ashkenazi Jewry. Sephardic Jews in Africa suffered too. Jews in Iran and Yemen had their fair share of suffering too as did Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews in other countries. In Israel, Sephardic Jews were mistreated by their very own brothers. Babies were stolen from Yemenite women and given up for adoption. Don’t forget Sephardic Jewry is in the Diaspora too. {Maybe we just complain less? KIDDING.}

    I don’t think that the flaming back and forth that goes on here over non-halachik or semi-halachik minutae would be anathema to sepharadic culture [sic] as I am sure that there are some Sephardic Jews here who flame the fire too. I do think that there are many here that like to argue Halacha and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’m sure most mean well…at least I hope they do.


    Of course! Historical and geographical factors lead to differences not just between Sfardim and Ashkenazim but between Ashkenazim themselves! Compare to the Torah Im Derech Eretz of German jewry to the philosophy of the Eastern European jews.

    An issue was brought with me from a younger bachur. Raised Sfardic, he became perplexed over whether to continue to wear a black hat or not since his Saba told him in Iraq they never did. While I did tell him to ask one with more experience in the matter (like the Mashgiach), it seems that this cross-culturalism has only become abundant in the past fifty years or so in America where we live in closer contact.


    Sefardim are more spiritual and group oriented. Ashkenazim are more intellectual and polar. That difference carries out in so many ways.


    lol i know this doesn’t really have to do withwhat was said above but we went on a school trip and one of our Ashkanaz teachers brought her daughter who’s in first grade. The whole time on the bus she was trying to pronounce everything like we did .[ex. chooomahsh or chuhmish] and then she had to teach us! haha it was soo funny 😀


    Cholent vs Dafina


    what’s dafina? our cholent is called Hamin 🙂


    let’s all sing Yalili now!


    Hamin = Syrians

    Dafina = Morroccans

    Cholent = Itches


    Kitnius is only for Ashkinazim because they were poor and would use bean flour, while sephardim had the ability to use wheat flour.

    Bar Nosh

    No optimusprime sadly Sepharadim are losing their very rich Torah culture in Israel in favor of integrated into the Charedei Ashkenazic Yeshivas. While you still have Porat Yosef and others, too many Sephardic families are sending their Bochrim to Ashekenazic Yeshivas and very, very few Ashkenazim send their Bochrim Sephardic Yeshivas.


    Bar Nosh: If you’re true concern about “too many Sephardic families are sending their Bochrim to Ashekenazic Yeshivas” was beacause they are losing their “culture”, then why would you bemoan that “very, very few Ashkenazim send their Bochrim Sephardic Yeshivas”? You should be please about the latter, since in your view they would not be losing their Ashkenazic culture.

    Torah is Torah, whether in an Ashkenaz Yeshiva or Sephardic. There has been cross-over Yeshiva attendance throughout the ages.


    i will be sefardic for pesach and ashkenaz the rest of the year


    Bar Nosh:

    I was just stating the fact that this whole movement of Sfardim adopting Ashkenzic customs and attending Ashkenzic yeshivos has happened in recent years due to the settlement of both Sfardic and Ashkenazic jews in the same area. In America, Brooklyn and Queens are prime examples. In Israel, there is Jerusalem and other towns and cities where this has occurred.

    Whether this is good or bad is not what I was speaking of. All I know is that in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and other Sfardic countries the yeshivish uniform of black hat and white shirt were certainly not the norm. Then again the same could be said for Mir and Slabodka. Why now is there a new standard is a whole different story.


    ooh, got it veteran 😉


    I’ve heard that there are many Ashkenazim who fill teaching posts at Sephardic Yeshivot. I am sure that they are very worthy teachers, but whether they know the Ben Ish Chai backwards and forwards like they do the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is another matter. Some Sephardim must see leaving the training of the next generation of pulpit rabbis in the hands of Ashkenazim, however well intentioned, as a threat to their continuity and cultural traditions.

    I would also point out that post-Shoah yeshivot have gone back to the sources, and have de-emphasized learning the minhagim. After so many years of this, we are hardly aware that it was not always so. Inevitably, the products of Ashkenazic yeshivot would teach as they were taught, whether that is at an Ashkenazic or Sephardic Yeshiva.


    while its of course necessary to perserve culture and heritage, that cannot be the only consideration. my parents escaped camel-back from iran when my mother was expecting me and my brother was two. they went through a hellish escape through the arabic deserts and through pakistan with basically no food. my husband left his family and came to america alone at age 16 to go to yeshiva. and yet, despite the fact that my husband learns in a sephardic kollel and teaches in a sephardic shul, and despite the fact that i teach in the top sephardic yeshiva, we have decided to send our sons to an ashkenazic yeshiva. having both gone through the ashkenazic system, and observing both communities from up close, we choose the more “lumdish” “yeshivish” sheltered lifestyle for our kids. and we don’t see it as giving up the heritage. i see it as continuing the heritage of “above all, sacrifice for Torah.”


    not that we’re sacrificing our heritage. i learned the halacha, culture, and even pronuncuation at home. to be fair, there were no sepharidic schools where i grew up, and my husband went to chiam berlin and ner yisrael (balt) bec. these were the two yeshivos taking in the persian teenage refugees.


    The size of the spice cabinet?


    why what spices do you use?


    If we only had a little more understanding of each other

    If we only dropped preconceived ideas of the other

    If we only realized they are my brothers and sisters

    If we only realized we are in this together


    Thanks, essy8, for your touching story. You are open-minded and have your priorities right and your kids will only benefit from your attitude.


    I come from a Yiddish speaking, gefilte fish eating home. My great great grandfather was from Lithuania. Turns out that we are actually Sephardic as was proven from a DNA test.

    All the differences are merely cultural. What I will say is, until very recently, it seems as if Sephardim were always believers even if they didn’t follow all the halachos. I hadn’t ever met an atheist Sephardi or one who didn’t believe in Matan Torah. Ashkenazim seem to have a huge gap. Zrisus for Torah on one end and reform/”humanistic” kafirus on the other.

    Just my two dinars worth.

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