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How many times I have asked myself "How come there are Sefardim within the ranks of the Lubavitch, Breslov, Bobov, etc. "Why, Why?

To be a Sefardi, means to be proud of what our parents and grand parents taught us, to know about our Tzadikim who had and continue to uphold our belief in the Torah.

To name a few, the list being so long, we should remember the Rambam, the Ramban, Rabbi Joseph Caro, Rabbi Haim Luzzato, Rabbi Haim David Azoulay, Rabbi Haim Benatar, Rabbi Amran Bendiwan, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, Rabbi Yoseph Haim Ben Ish Hai- may their memory lives on forever and whose teachings are alive in so many Yeshivot today.

To be a Sephardi, does have one to forget one’s past? Or, on the contrary, should we not share our heritage with all our brothers and sisters of different customs, without imposing on them our minhagim, as they sometimes do to us.

To be Sephardi, is to make sure that our Tzadikim live forever in our hearts and memories, for if not us, who will ever know about our beloved rabbis from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq and all the Mediterranean countries? We, Sefardim, have the duty, the responsibility, the great privilege to remind ourselves by ways of writing about them (among other things) that our rabbis were and are great rabbis.

Have we read or heard members of other Jewish communities praise a Sephardic Rabbi with all the respect and admiration he deserves? Who, among them, has ever heard about Rabbi Hai Taieb?

Have we ever got, in answer to our "Shabbat Shalom" anything but "Gutt Shabbos"? Why, because our brothers Ashkenezim and hassidim are very, very proud of whom they are, where they come from and where they are going! Why, then, we Sefardim, have not this same pride in being part of a very special community? Have we forgotten how much our parents and grand parents were observant? Was there anyone who ever forgot to kiss the mezuzah in coming and in going out? And our mothers, did they ever miss going to the hammam, which was in no way less beautiful than the modern mikvah? Our Tzedaka was as valuable as all the small "puskas" of today.

I remember my father (of blessed memory) and all members of the Jewish Community in Tunis, as well as most certainly in every Sefardic community, made it their obligation to share with less fortunate individuals, and donate the same amount they would spend for they own children, be it for a brit mila, a henne, wedding, etc… and they did it without any advertisement!

Remember, how we used to help each other, who were neighbors! I recall my mother (of blessed memory), would not think of preparing the Shabbat meal without sharing with a less fortunate neighbor, some of the abundant food my father brought home.

Wake up, Sefardim! We have inherited a fabulous wealth, we must be proud to show it, share it and never forget it. Why is that our Tzadikim and our Rabbis do not take within Judaism their rightful place?

Wake up, Sefardim. Help the Sefardic Centers in the world and you will see, there are many of them. You might say: "they are not religious for me". So what! Help them to improve, fight for your heritage, do not go elsewhere because they seem better organized or because their hats or kipot are larger than ours! Do not forget that if they do not appreciate us, Sefardim, it is because we do not respect ourselves. Have we forsaken our collective memory?

Wake up, Sefardim, Do you know one single Ashkenaze or other Jew who has joined our ranks and has become a Sefardi, except in the case of a Sephardic man marrying an Ashkenasic woman?

Wake up, Sefardim. Have you heard or seen a single Ashkenzi or Hassid wearing a "Djelaba"? This djelaba is a perfectly modest garment that reminds us of the way Sefardim used to live. Then why should we wear their black hats?

Wake up, Sefardim. Have you ever heard or have you seen the other Jews genuinely interested in our minhagim (customs) before they would enroll you in theirs?

And now, wake up, Sefardim. Listen and look for the best side of other Jews, see how they love their country (present or former), how they give tzedaka, how they support the yeshivot they help building. And instead of joining them, why not emulate and STAY SEFARDIM? Do not choose the easy way out, fight for your rightful inheritance, it is such a wealth!

Wake up, Seafardim. Are we ashamed of our memory? Have the rest of the Jewsh community succeeded in making us second class Jews? If we are perceived as impulsive, loud, vulgar, shouldn’t we prove them wrong instead of joining their ranks? We must be proud and stay Sefardim with all our impulsiveness, loudness, because we are alive and we have a passion for life! Do not take the easy road, fight for your Sefardism, we have every reason and right to be so proud!

Wake up, Sefardim. Have you ever attended a lecture or a Dvar Torah in an Ashkenezi synagogue, where the lecturer was sefardi?

Wake up, Sefardim. Instead of wasting time finding faults with ourselves, lets hold our heads high and show the world what we are capable of accomplishing. Wake up, Sefardim. How many Ashkenazim are learning in a Sefardic Yeshiva? And how many Sefardim are learning in Ashkenazi Yeshivot?

What, have we lost all our pride? The Spanish Inquisition was then for nothing? The "galout" in the mediterranean countries was also for nothing? We have forsaken our inheritance in one or two short generations.

Wake up, Sefardim! Have you checked your mezuzot lately? Are they vertical on the door posts, as it is customary with us? And how about your tzitzit and tefillin. Are you sure they are Sefardic? There is a marked difference you know!

One cannot conclude without giving a "Kol Hakavod" to our brothers and sisters of the other Jewish Communities for having kept so firmly their traditions!

I have a dream and it is that this message will have an impact on the heart of every Sefardi and we all hope and pray that Ribbono Chel Olam will open for each one of us the Heavenly doors, according to our minaghim. Amen.

Josiane Luna Abitbol Marchand

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