NEW YORK (Apr. 27)
“The walls of Sephardic isolation are crumbling and both the Ashkenazim and Sephardim have embarked upon the great enterprise of working in common for all Israel,” Dr. Isaac I. Schwarzbart, director of the World Jewish Congress’ Organization Department, declared in a report published today in connection with the Second World Sephardic Conference, scheduled to open in Jerusalem on May 9.
“Substantial progress has been made toward the full amalgamation of the Sephardim and Ashkenazim in the four years since the last Sephardic conference,” Dr. Schwarzbart disclosed, “but their integration into the oneness of our people has not yet reached the level that would meet the needs of our times in our struggle for survival.”
The study by Dr. Schwarzbart, entitled “Toward Unity Between Sephardim and Ashkenazim,” traces the many organizational activities of the WJC to attain a working unity between the two segments of Jewry. In addition, the study presents a detailed comparative chart showing the number of Sephardim in the world in 1950 and today.
Statistics, listed for 103 countries and islands throughout the globe, show that the world’s total Jewish population is 11, 763,491. Of these, 1, 744, 883–or 15 percent–are Sephardic Jews.
Of the nearly two million Sephardic Jews today, over 51 percent live in Asia, over 31 percent in Africa, over 11 percent in the Western Hemisphere, over five percent in Europe and nearly one percent in Australia. In relation to the Ashkenazim, the report shows, the Sephardim constitute 82 percent of the total Jewish population in Africa, 47 percent in Asia, and only 3 percent in the Western Hemisphere and Europe.
“From this breakdown,” Dr. Schwarzbart declares, “it is clear that the problem of amalgamation is of special importance in Asia. Close to 575, 000 Sephardim live in Israel side by side with 900, 000 Ashkenzaim. This is truly a laboratory where an amalgamation of the two segments has to be brought about. The problem of amalgamation is of major importance, also, in Latin America, both South and Central America. Argentina has 75, 600 Sephardim out of a total Jewish population of 520,000. Brazil has 19, 200 among 120, 000 Jews; Cuba, 4,500 among 10, 000; and Mexico, 9, 600 among 23,907.