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Reviving Sephardic Jewry: Ppealissued by Central Executive of Sephardic World Confederation: Congres

An appeal to Sephardic Jews all over the world to join the World Confederation of Sephardic Jews and help to restore the glories of Sephardic Jewry and make it again a great force in the life of the Jews of the world has been issued here by the Central Executive Committee of the Confederation which has its seat in Paris, the signatures including those of the President, Mr. Moses D.de Picciotto; the Vice-President, Dr. N. J. Ovadio, Grand Rabbi of the Sepharoic Community in Paris, and Professor William Oualid, the famous authority on international law, member of the Executive.

We Sephardim constitute a large family of one million five hundred thousand souls in the midst of the Jewish nation, the appeal says. Scattered all over the world, from London and New York, to the Indies, and North Africa, the Sephardic Communities live mainly on the shores of the Mediterranean, concentrated in communities which are, many of them, centuries old.

In the courseof their long sojourn in Spain, the Sephardim produced great men who are still the pride of the Jews, and of all humanity, and a rich Hebrew literature which is still the glory of Jewry. Such a manifestation of fruitful Jewish endeavour in all branches of Jewish life has never been equalled anywhere in the Diaspora. Those tremendous calamities, the Inquisition and the expuslion from Spain, struck a blow at Sephardic Jewry.

Welcomed in Holland, Italy and all North Africa, it was in Turkey that the largest number of the Spanish exiles found their homes. In the ancient Ottoman Empire, which stretched from Hungary and the Balkans to the boundaries of Persia, they founded a network of communities, of which the most important were those of Constantinople, Salonica, Smyrna, Adrionople, Beirut, Damascus, Aleppo, Jerusalem, and Egypt.

For almost four centuries, Sephardic Jewry continued to produce eminent men and important works. But with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Sephardic Jewry, too, disintegrated.

TO-DAY SEPHARDIC JEWISH COMMUNITIES ARE ISOLATED WITHOUT EFFECTIVE BOND BETWEEN THEM: SEPHARDIC WORLD ORGANISATION WILL REPRESENT US ALL MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD AND PROTECT OUR INTERESTS: SEPHARDIM ALL MEDITERRANEAN PEOPLE MANY OF THEM WITH ARAB CULTURE AND WILL BE INVALUABLE IN JEWISH RELATIONS WITH ARABS IN PALESTINE

To-day, the appeal goes on, the Sephardim live in isolated communities, without any effective bond between them. Individually, Sephardic Jews participate in all the manifestations of Jewish activity and unity, but collectively they have no place in all the great activities and discussions brought up in the course of our manifold Jewish life. This is prejudicial, not only to the interests of the Sephardim, but to the interests of Judaism as a whole. To neglect our branch of the Jewish tree, or to consider it as non-existent, is to deprive Jewry of an important factor which could contribute a great deal to its enrichment.

In our present disorganised condition, we Sephardim are a weakened element, but as soon as we regain our unity we shall be able to contribute towards the strengthening of the entire body of Judaism. The existence of a Sephardic World Organisation will give representation to us all, make our voices heard in the counsels of Jewry, and will protect our specific interests, as well as the interests of Jewry and of Palestine generally. The Sephardim are all Mediterranean people, like the people in Palestine. Many Sephardim possess the Arab culture, and will be invaluable in Jewish relations with the Arabs.

It is for these reasons that the World Confederation of Sephardic Jews has been founded. Its aims are: To organise the Sephardim into a great association, capable of taking into its hands the protection of their collective interests, moral, intellectual and religious; to preserve and defend the traditions, rites and the religious and moral character of the Sephardic family; and to intensify the contributions of the Sephardic elements to the general work of Jewish renaissance, particularly in the land of our ancestors.

WHY PARIS HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS SEAT OF CONFEDERATION

During the last fifteen years, the appeal explains, about fifty thousand Sephardim have immigrated to France, mostly from countries which formed part of the ancient Ottoman Empire. Trained from childhood in French culture, as a result of the magnificent work of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, they constitute an element easily assimilated to French culture, and a force working for order and progress, as Jews do in every country.

France, by virtue of her mandate over Syria, at the same time exercises her protection and moral influence over the Sephardic communities of Aleppo, Damascus and Beirut. In addition, there are the age-old Jewish Communities of North Africa, Algeria, Tunis, and Morocco. These Sephardic Communities have been nourished on French culture, while preserving traditional faith, and they are therefore all designed to play an important part in the work of our Confederation.

The Sephardim living in France or in the French colonies, or countries under French Mandate or protection, thus constitute the most important portion of Sephardic world Jewry, taking the place of the Jewish Communities of the ancient Ottoman Empire in regard to the conditions of life best adapted to a Mediterranean people.

A monthly periodical, the “Sepharadi”, will act as the connecting link for all our Sephardic Communities all over the world.

The Central Committee in Paris, therefore, calls upon all Sephardim throughout the world to join our Confederation.

Each member will receive free of charge the organ of the Confederation. Each group of members may organise itself into an independent organisation to carry out the aims of the Confederation. Each member will be entitled to vote in the election of delegates to the Congresses which will be convoked by the Confederation, and the delegates will elect the members of the Central Executive Committee.

Sephardic Jewry, the appeal closes, must take up again its historic role in the midst of Judaism. The descendants of Ibn Gabirol, Jehuda Halevy, Crescas, Maimonides, and the many other illustrious sons of Sephardic Jewry must make themselves worthy of their ancestors, and again help to enrich Judaism and humanity by their organised work. Sephardim to work!

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