Sephardic Youth Parley Holds First National Convention

The first national Sephardic youth conference ended yesterday by adopting resolutions calling for solidarity and support of Israel in “its time of crisis” along with other resolutions urging the narrowing of the gap between the Sephardic community in Israel and other segments of Israeli society, setting up an education committee among Israeli-Sephardic youth, supporting efforts to help Jews in Arab lands and acting to integrate Sephardic youth into the Jewish organizations in the United States. Some 40,000 Sephardic youngsters are estimated to reside in the U.S.

The shadow of the Yom Kippur War was felt at the convention which had been planned before the outbreak of war Oct. 6. If the war hadn’t broken out, one organizer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the convention would have taken a more critical stand on the Israeli government’s treatment of the Sephardic community there. More than 400 youngsters from the U.S., Canada and Israel participated in the conference which began Thursday and whose theme was “The Role of Young Sephardim in America.”

Haim Eliachar, chairman of the board of the American Sephardic Federation and Mati Ronen, its executive director, told the JTA that they see special importance in organizing the Sephardic youth in the U.S.–Only by organizing them can these youth relate to Judaism since they are not part of the general Jewish youth activities in this country, Eliachar and Ronen said.

According to Ronen, the federation will devote a great deal of effort for future activities regarding the youth. A national steering committee was elected to represent the interests of the Sephardic youth in the general Jewish youth community in North America. The conference was hosted by the Atlanta Sephardic Congregation, Or-Ve-Shalom. Cables were received from Israeli President Ephraim Katzir; Leon Dulzin, acting chairman of the Jewish Agency; and Israel Yeshayahu, speaker of the Knesset.

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