The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America
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La Boz Sefaradi
The Sephardic Voice
Newsletter - 52
August 25, 2017
The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America
Dedicated in Memory of Haim Vitali Sadacca z"l
On August 22, the world lost one of its last poets in Judeo-Spanish, Haim VItali Sadacca, who was loved and admired by everyone and all of those who read his perfectly-rhymed sentimental and inspiring poetry. Haim was born on September 11, 1919 in Çanakkale, Turkey, where he received elementary schooling. In 1933, his parents sent him to Istanbul, where he stuied at the Haydarpasha Lyceé, and two years at the Ecole Saint-Benoit. He began to work as an accountant in 1937, and started his own business in 1947. He retired in 1990 in order to be near his two sons -  Jack and Selim. Since then, he and his wife, Janet, have resided in Montreal, Florida, and Istanbul.

Having written poems in Turkish as a student in Istanbul, Vitali's passion in retirement was to write poems in his native tongue of Ladino, expressing his thoughts and emotion through rhyme and rhythm. In 2009, many of these were published, with English translations by Professor David Fintz Altabe z"l, by the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture in the book Uno Ramo de Poemas - A Bouquet of Poems. His blessed memory will live on in this unique body of poetry and in the lives of those who knew him.
Announcements & Upcoming Events
Celebrating 1 Year of La Boz Sefaradi!
Dear Friends,

We are thrilled to celebrate the first anniversary of our weekly newsletter, La Boz Sefaradi - The Sephardic Voice. From less than a few dozen subscribers at its inception to nearly a thousand today, La Boz Sefaradi has truly become the Sephardic Voice for a new generation of our communities. We have been able to spread the word about new Brotherhood programs, community events, Ladino education, and Sephardic news.

We are extremely proud of the progress we have made over the past year in building bridges and connecting our Sephardic and Romaniote communities across the country and around the world. As we look ahead, we hope La Boz and the efforts of the Brotherhood continues to inspire our communities to maintain our traditions and reinvigorate the next Sephardic generation.

Anyos Munchos i Buenos!

Rabbi Nissim Elnecav
Executive Director
Labor Day Sephardic Shabbaton - Indianapolis
Sephardic Bikur Holim Bazaar - Seattle
Ladino Quote of the Week
קארה די לונה אין קינזי

Kara de luna en kinze.

A face as the moon on the fifteenth.

Every week we include a Ladino Quote, a line of poetry, advice, or a common saying used in our Sephardic culture. The sayings are written in Ladino with Hebrew characters, Ladino with Latin characters, and in English. We hope this helps you learn a little bit more about the language and culture of our people. Thanks to our friend Rachel Bortnick, we also have weekly recordings to help you better learn the language.

Listen to the Quote in Ladino
Programs for Young Professionals and Students
News from the Sephardic World
‘I’d Like to Become a Bird’ - Ladino Letters from Rhodes
Featured in Tablet Magazine
By Hannah Pressman

Until my early adulthood, I had no family names or faces to connect with the Holocaust. I always assumed that, on my father’s side, any members of his extended Lithuanian family who didn’t manage to escape their shtetls for America or elsewhere had become victims of the Nazis. Unexpectedly, though, the first time I had confirmation in writing about my family’s connection to the Holocaust came from my mother’s side of the family—the Sephardic side.

As I was sifting through some family memorabilia in my parents’ Virginia home about 15 years ago, I found a typed document in Italian, dated 1964 and bearing two official seals and signatures. My knowledge of Italian was limited to vocabulary recalled from high school Latin, but enough words jumped out at me for an understanding to emerge: “ALHADEFF REBECCA…RODI…1944…deportata in Germania … in campo di concentramento.”

Read More
Rivca Alhadeff, the author’s great-great-grandmother, was born on the island of Rhodes in 1870 and died at Auschwitz in 1944, photo undated. (All photos courtesy the author.)
The Cuban Jewish Story of Survival
Featured in Sephardi Ideas Monthly
By Irene Shaland

Cuba has been a refuge for the Jews since 1492, when conversos sought a safe haven from the Spanish Inquisition. Today, a tiny but united community of one thousand remains after more than five hundred years of history and five distinct waves of Crypto-Jewish and Jewish immigration.

There is no documentary evidence regarding the first Jews in Cuba. The popular view is that the first European settler in Cuba was a converso named Lois de Torres, born Yosef ben Levy Ha-Ivri. An explorer and translator, ben Levy sailed with Columbus on the Santa Maria. The only synagogue in the Bahamas, the Luis de Torres Synagogue in Freeport, is named after him.

In the early 20th century, arriving in Cuba, mostly men who were fleeing forced conscription during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, these Ladino-speaking Sephardim had a relatively easy time assimilating to their new home. Many made their living as small business owners or itinerant peddlers scattered around the island, but the largest group settled in Havana. In 1914 the Sephardim established their own communal organization, Shevet Ahim, and in 1918, as an auxiliary to Shevet Ahim, Sephardic women founded the first Jewish women’s charity on the island, La Buena Voluntad, to care for widows and orphans. Sephardic immigration lasted throughout the 1920s, and these newcomers built a secure corner on the island that was firmly rooted in Jewish traditions.

Read More
"Exile is less a location than a method of unfolding, lyrically – unpacking one’s baggage of languages, influences, troubles, and odd biographical facts…" ~Jose Kozer, Jewish Cuban poet.
Kuentos de Djoha - Stories of Djoha

Djoha yego tadre y borracho a su kaza. Su mujer le demando, "Djoha de ke vienes a kaza tan tadre, ay kuatro oras ke se eskuresio?”

Djoha respondio, "A Dio! Esta eskuridad me paresio ke era por el eklipse del sol."

Djoha came home drunk and late at night. His wife asked him, “Djoha, why are you home so late, it got dark more then four hours ago?”

Djoha responded, “Goodness! I was afraid it was a total solar eclipse."
Every week we include a story from Djoha, a comedic character in the Sephardic tradition that often holds a piece of advice, spiritual principle, or cultural practice rooted in our community. The Kuentos are written in both Ladino with Latin characters,and in English. We hope this helps you learn a little bit more about the culture, humor, and joy that can be found in our community traditions. Thanks to our friend Rachel Bortnick, we also have weekly recordings to help you better learn the language. 
Listen to the Kuento in Ladino
Parashah of the Week - Shofteim
Balancing the Court
By Rabbi Nissim Elnecavé

Our Parashah opens with the commandment of the appointing of judges and officers in order to establish a system of justice and order amongst the people. Moshe states, "You should not judge unfairly, you should show no partiality, you should not take any bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice you should pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the LORD your G-d gives you." (Devarim 16:19-20) Courthouses are to be instituted within every tribe in order to maintain law and order and for society and civility to develop and thrive. Their integrity will allow justice to stand.

Rabbi Hayim ben Moshe Ben-Atar (1) comments that aside from court cases, the function of the judge was also to transmit the Torah to the masses and to legislate to them in all matters related to it. At the same time, officers were also required to police the streets and the market places enforcing the laws of the Torah. He states, "If there are no officers, there are no judges, if there are no judges, there are no officers." Judges can not enforce the law without officers, but officers have no law to enforce when there are no judges. One depends on the other. The integrity of both is a must.  They both must also attain the proper authority in order that they are heard and respected.  

Rabbi Ben-Atar writes that the commandment to appoint judges is the responsibility of the people. The public is accountable and obligated to nominate righteous judges. They must look after individuals that have the proper characteristics and that have the courage to rule based on truth and honesty. Further, the community must also look to keep them honest, the checks and balances are in the hands of the public who judge and demand justice and good morals from their leaders. (2)

Quoting from Maimonides, Rabbi Shabetay Vitas (3) gives a brief overview of how the court system was to be set up. He writes that the Beth Din HaGadol or Sanhedrin served as the Supreme Court of Israel. The lower courts in Israel would judge on matters pertaining to their own cities and tribes. If the issue was not resolved, the higher courts in Yerushalayim would be involved. When a  matter could not be resolved by any of the lower courts, the Sanhedrin represented by seventy one judges would preside and bring the matter to final decision, either by unanimous agreement or by a majority vote, an outstanding system of law. Indeed, it is well known that the legislative system developed in the U.S borrowed many concepts from Torah and rabbinic sources.  
It is also interesting to note that the word Senate used today for a branch in government, is derived from the word Sanhedrin. In essence, the Sanhedrin did function as the High Court for the Jewish People. Rabbi Shabbetai Vitas concludes that the Beth Din HaGadol is the governing body of the Jewish people and the institution of the court system is vital to the transmission of the Torah.

To conclude, in the Torah system we strive to attain a difficult balance. Our Sages have the obligation to rule, to legislate and to transmit the law to the people. (4) They must teach the law to the masses, guide them and inspire them to behave righteously and in turn, we the people, have the obligation to demand from our judges and our officers truth, honesty and keeping the procedures in the courts ethical and moral.

Shabbat Shalom

(1) Rabbi Ḥayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar also known as the Or ha-Ḥayyim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Meknes, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Israel on July 7, 1743. He was amongst the most prominent rabbis in Morocco. In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in the Land of Israel, then under the Ottoman Empire. En route he was detained in Livorno by the rich members of the Jewish community who established a yeshiva for him. Many of his pupils later became prominent and furnished him with funds to print his Or ha-Ḥayyim. He was received with great honor wherever he traveled. This was due to his extensive knowledge, keen intellect and extraordinary piety. In the middle of 1742 he arrived in Jerusalem where he presided at the Bet Midrash Kenesset Yisrael. One of his disciples there was Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai, who wrote of his master's greatness: "Attar's heart pulsated with Talmud; he uprooted mountains like a resistless torrent; his holiness was that of an angel of the Lord, ... having severed all connection with the affairs of this world." He is buried in the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.

(2) Rabbi Hayyim Ben Attar, Commentary to the Torah, Devarim 16:18-20.

(3) Rabbi Shabetay ben Yaakov Vitas, 1700´s Constantinople. Author of Meshivat Nefesh, a commentary of the Azharot of Rabbi Shelomo Ibn Gabirol, in the style of the Meam Loez. Published in Constantinople 1743-1744.

(4) Rabbi Shabetay Vitas, Meshivat Nefesh.
Correction for La Boz Sefaradi #51
Please note that the article in last week's La Boz Sefaradi - The Sephardic Voice, mistakenly accredited the digital copy of La Bos de Pueblo, the Voice of the People. The image was provdied courtesy of Joe Halio, the grandson of Albert Torres, publisher  of La Bos and nearly ever Sephardic newspaper printed in New York.
Copyright © 2017 The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America, Inc. All rights reserved.

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67-67 108th St. Forest Hills, NY 11375
Office Phone: (718)-685-0080 |

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