The Sephardic Scene


Angela Siegel

Effective April 1, 2014, the New York State estate tax exemption was increased from $1 million to $2,062,500. This means that a New York resident can now leave up to $2,062,500 of assets to his or her non-spousal heirs without incurring an estate tax in New York. This new legislation also provides for annual increases in the exemption through 2017, at which time the New York exemption will match the 2013 federal exemption of $5,250,000.

While this is certainly great news for New Yorkers, there are some aspects of the legislation that can be traps for the unwary. For example, if your assets exceed the New York State exemption limit by 5% or more, the entire estate may become subject to estate tax. Perhaps more importantly, while prior to April 1, 2014 lifetime gifts were not taxable, under the new legislation gifts made within three (3) years of death are pulled back into the estate and, therefore, may result in a higher estate tax liability. Lastly, unlike federal law, New York State does not have a portability provision; therefore, if the first-to-die spouse does not utilize his or her exemption amount, it becomes lost forever and the survivor can not take advantage of it. Of course, the simple solution to this problem is to have credit shelter trust provisions in your wills.

While the passage of the changes is great news, there is no guarantee that the law won’t change again in the future. That is yet another reason for clients to continue to engage in estate planning and make sure they utilize the by-pass trust or credit shelter trust as an estate planning tool.

Even if it were not for the estate tax issue, there are many advantages to establishing a trust under one’s will, for the benefit of the surviving spouse. Such trusts are extremely useful in protecting assets from creditors and for preventing assets from being dissipated because of long-term care costs. Such trusts can also provide protection of assets in the event the surviving spouse remarries, or in the event the spouse becomes incapacitated and is not able to make wise financial decisions.

As a result of the ongoing changes in the estate and gift tax laws, it is imperative that everyone periodically review their estate plan. Credit shelter trusts should definitely not be abandoned. Contact Info: 516-741-6100,

Ayekah Jewish Education and The Coalition for Ladino Legacy

Elisheva Diaz President and Founder

As one recalls in the story of Adam and Eve, after their sin, they hide from G-d and He seeks them out. He calls to them and says “Ayekah?” (Bereshit 3:9) In Hebrew, the connotation is riveting. It is not only Adam, where are you? But, Who are you? To answer this particular question there are times one has no choice but to cut away at our sometimes-fraudulent self-identities we Jews have formed while in the diaspora.

Our Founder, Elisheva (Irma) Diaz (a Sephardic Jew) answered the question ”Ayekah”. In doing so she had to cut away at much of her past and start fresh. This is generally the story of those from the Anusim. The struggles and the realities became evident to her as she realized what this all really meant on both sides of the spectrum, her past and her future. It was through this experience that our non-profit organization “Ayekah” and its outreach, The Coalition for Ladino Legacy were founded. Our mission is to educate those in our community about the return of the wandering and at times, hidden Jew. To strengthen, assist and motivate all Jews throughout the Diaspora who’s Soul is crying out for home.

Elisheva Diaz is a dynamic speaker who has a passion for the awakening and return of the Jewish Soul. For more information please visit us at, email us or call at 323.508.1758

Congregation Shearith Israel

Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York, is the oldest Jewish Congregation in North America, having been formed by Dutch and Portuguese refugees from Recife, Brazil in 1654. The current synagogue, at Central Park West and 70th Street, was built in 1897 and is the fifth building occupied by the congregation. The majestic sanctuary including its beautiful stained-glass windows was designed by Louis C. Tiffany and is among the most magnificent synagogues in North America.

Services are conducted according to the Spanish and Portuguese or Western Sephardic minhag and nusakh. Daily services are held in the “Little Synagogue” utilizing furniture and furnishings going back to 1730 and which proudly remain in daily use. Shabbat and Holiday services enjoy the participation of our choir and are conducted with awesome dignity and splendor. Services are led by our Hazzanim and Rabbis. Engaging sermons and educational seminars are given by the Congregation’s clergy, Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik and Rabbi Richard Hidary.

Approximately half of the congregation come from diverse Sephardic backgrounds including Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Italy and Amsterdam. The other half of the congregation comes from a wide variety of Ashkenazic backgrounds. In addition to our beautiful tefillah, all of our members and friends enjoy exceptional educational opportunities in torah and Judaic studies and interesting and engaging social and cultural programming.

We offer a wide array of learning opportunities each week for every age group. A highly successful and popular toddler program is offered each morning for our youngest learners. The Polonies Talmud Torah (The Hebrew School,) led by Rabbi Shalom Morris, offers Judaic education to school age children. Junior congregation attracts many of our youth and transmits the Spanish and Portuguese liturgy to the next generation. Hebrew language classes and beginning Judaism classes are offered along with classes geared to more advanced students of Torah and Judaic studies.

The lifecycle, hesed, and, charitable needs of our active congregation are met by lay led societies such as the Hebra Hased vaAmet; The Hebrew Relief Society, The Sisterhood and the Caring Connection. All of these work in conjunction with the synagogue’s clergy to provide for the needs of our congregants and their families.

Engaging and exciting social events occur throughout the year, including concerts, tours, outings, lectures, movies, and many other programs organized by our Program Director, Alana Schultz along with the Shearith Israel League.

Even after 360 years, Shearith Israel remains an active, vibrant and exciting synagogue welcoming to all. To learn more about our history, traditions, upcoming activities and service schedules please visit our website at Better yet, we hope you will join us for a class, event or service this year, and we look forward to meeting you!

2 W 70th Street, New York, NY 10023, 212-873-0300,

Jewish Center of Forest Hills West


In 1948, there were around 80,000 Jews in Egypt and only a quarter of them were indigenous. The remaining arrived to this ‘promised land’ in the late 19th century. In this period, the international commerce flourished and many Jews found Egypt a land of new opportunities.

After 1948, Egypt wasn’t the “promised land” it once was. Each Israeli-Arab war saw a wave of emigration of Jews from Egypt. They left with their property confiscated, but they were happy to be alive. The situation worsened with the Young Coronel Revolution in 1952, especially as Nasser came to power. His virulent anti-Semitism was broadcasted daily.

My family left on July 26, 1962 directly to Italy. In Italy, I graduated in Rabbinics and Physics and I have been rabbi in different Italian congregations, until 1985 when I came to the JTS, with a Ph.D. scholarship to study Jewish history.

Since January 2014, I’ve had the honor to be the Guest Rabbi at the Jewish Center of Forest Hills West. During these six months, I brought with me Jewish tunes and experiences from around the world, and, whenever I can, I love teaching Bible and Jewish history. I believe that this Middle Village small congregation has the opportunity to flourish again and offer its contribution to the city and to the Jewish community in large. A lot of work needs to be done; I am confident that the Board with the steadfast energetic President will make a difference. Please, come and visit us at our Sabbath Services followed by a delicious Kiddush/luncheon.

63-25 Dry Harbor Road, Middle Village, NY 11379,, 718-639-2110

Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is offering up to 30% off dealer list price* on new Chryslers, Dodges, Jeeps, and Rams during their Spendless Summer Sales Event. Kings Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram created this unprecedented event to give drivers the savings they deserve this summer!

“We are so thankful for the fantastic customers we have,” commented Alex Avrutsky, General Manager at Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

“During the Spendless Summer Sales Event, our goal is to help every single customer get on the road this summer without breaking the bank. That means an even bigger savings and bigger selection than usual!”

Whether customers are looking for a family sedan, fuel efficient crossover or powerful SUV, they can find the perfect vehicle for their needs. Plus, customers may be eligible for 0% financing up to 60 months. Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is also offering Kingtastic top dollar for your trade, vehicle subject to inspection; less wear and tear.

Avrutsky explained, “We intend to move our new vehicle inventory by offering deals to local residents that could save them thousands off current market value pricing. This is an event that benefits everyone!”

These never before seen savings are available only at Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. In addition to savings as much as 30% off dealer list price* on new vehicles, Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will also have special deals on all certified pre-owned vehicles.

“This is really an event for everyone,” explains Avrutsky. “Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has vehicles that are as unique as each of our customers. No matter what you’re in the market for, we have it! This Spendless Summer Sales Event was made for you; you don’t want to miss it!”

Every type of credit worthiness will be accepted to obtain credit approval, even for those who may have had credit problems in the past. “In this economy,” stressed Avrutsky, “almost everyone is having some type of credit issue. There’s just no way that we’re going to exclude them from this event.”

The Kingtastic Spendless Summer Sales Event will take place at Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at 2286 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn. Kings County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will be open as early as 9:00AM.

For more information, call 866-899-7319 or visit

Kinneret Day School

Kinneret Day School is one of New York City ’s best kept secrets. Located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx , Kinneret provides students from across the spectrum of Jewish practice with a cutting-edge education in a warm, nurturing environment.

Serving students in Nursery through Eighth Grade, Kinneret Day School has a proven record of excellence in Judaic and secular studies. On average over 75% of Kinneret graduates are accepted into the best specialized high schools in the city,with many choosing to enter elite private and Jewish schools. Kinneret offers a one-of-a-kind combination of varied educational opportunities synthesized with Jewish values, Jewish knowledge, and love of Israel .

To learn more about Kinneret Day School , please visit our website at To schedule an appointment, please call our school office at 718-548-0900. 2600 Netherland Ave, Riverdale, NY 10463

Kosher Chef Guy

My name is Guy Sade and I am a private chef. I began cooking in my grandmother’s kitchen in Israel, where I learned her authentic Libyan recipes which she brought with her when she emigrated to Israel in the 1930’s.

After high school and the army, I moved to Jerusalem to attend culinary school and then on to Eilat where I spent eight years cooking in Five Star Hotels. In 2006 I was the chef in a Kosher Chinese restaurant in Miami, and in 2007 I was the executive chef at a kosher Italian restaurant in Brooklyn.

While working at the restaurant, I began meeting clients who asked me to cook for them in their homes. I quickly realized that I was happiest creating custom menus for clients and cooking in their homes for their families and guests.

Chef Guy, 347-484-8976,

Long Beach Hotel

Welcome to the Long Beach Hotel, a wonderful destination by the sea. We are conveniently located just one block away from New York’s most beautiful and historic beach and boardwalk, Long Beach.

The Long Beach Hotel is proudly located in one of Long Beach’s most historical buildings. Over the last two years, the building has been renovated for both your convenience and comfort. Being just 5 minutes away from the Long Island Railroad, 25 minutes from JFK International Airport and 40 minutes from the sights and sounds of the City that never sleeps provides our guests with endless opportunities to explore New York City’s finest attractions.

We are just a short drive to Long Island’s only open air concert venue (Jones Beach Ampitheater) and historic Roosevelt Field Shopping Center. New York City’s famous theatre and shopping districts are also just a short train ride away.

From Weddings to Sheva Brachot, we provide our guests with a unique, casual and affordable setting for any social or corporate affair. Each event package is individually customized by our in-house event coordination team. We provide Kosher catering, as well, in partnership with Young Israel of Long Beach.

Our Grand Ballroom seats up to 250 people and is the ideal setting for the party you will talk about for years to come. Whether you are looking for a sit down dinner, buffet, or cocktail lounge style event, we can accommodate your every need, no matter how big or small the event is.

The Long Beach Hotel is the place for everyone, in this wonderful city by the sea. Visit for more information or call 516.330.8317 to make a reservation!

Manhattan Day School

Manhattan Day School / Yeshiva Ohr Torah (MDS), an Orthodox Yeshiva on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is proud to celebrate our 71st year of commitment to excellence in Jewish learning and general studies. At MDS, we are proud to be educating the leaders of tomorrow.

Our Upper West Side facility is bright and inviting, complete with technology enabled classrooms, science lab, cafeteria, gymnasium, outdoor playground and rooftop yard. We attract boys and girls (toddlers – 8th grade) of Sephardic and Ashkenazi backgrounds from a variety of communities in the greater New York metropolitan area.

We offer a rigorous Judaic curriculum, with a philosophy based on Torah and its guiding principles, alongside a love for the State of Israel. This religious foundation combined with our comprehensive general studies program has prepared generations of students to pursue their high school education at the finest Yeshiva high schools.

Our learning environment is dynamic. We have implemented cutting edge educational methods and have successfully introduced technology in the classroom through phased implementation and ongoing faculty training. The varying needs and strengths of each student are identified and supported to ensure that he/she is a successful learner.

We are committed to each student’s success using multiple teaching methods such as 21st century learning and project-based learning. We are pleased to share how our students feel about their MDS education:

“I love MDS so much I wish I could go to MDS college.”

Kindergarten student

“I am a part of the Science Enrichment Neurobiology program at MDS… [with] Rabbi Muller, a scientist at Columbia University…[Recently] I went to Columbia to meet his students and to see what he does in his workspace…Being part of this has shown me you can do anything you set your mind to…and make a big impact on the world.”

6th grade student

“In Mrs. Melzer’s class we’re learning about the Holocaust and its importance…My generation has to learn about it so we can teach it to future generations.”

8th grade student

Please contact Cindy Sherman, Director of Admissions, at 212-376-6800 ext. 834 to schedule a personal tour and see how MDS is “Fostering a Lifetime of Learning” every day.

310 W. 75th St. New York, NY 10023,

Manhattan Sephardic Congregation

Originating in 1990 as a dwelling for a few wandering and devout-seeking congregants, MSC has grown to become a full-service venue for Sephardic worship and learning. With an array of adult education classes for both men and women, a morning and afternoon kollel of rabbis to study with the community, daily services (morning and evening), as well as Shabbat and Holidays, visiting lectures, singles events, women’s lectures and weekly classes, monthly inspirational movie nights, children’s programs and other exciting activities, MSC offers a warm, inviting, spirited communal outlet for all Jewish people of all backgrounds. All are welcomed!

MSC has hosted prominent dignitaries and personalities as well as world renown rabbis: Among them, Chief Sephardic and Ashkenazi Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ZT”L, Rabbi Bakshi Doron, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi David Baruch Lau, Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Yosef Sitruk, famed Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri ZT”L, Rabbi Shalom Messas, ZT”L, Former Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. David Levy and many other MKs and dignitaries from Israel, Morocco, France and the United States.

Throughout the millennia, our Jewish brethren have made great contributions and sacrifices for the preservation of our rich heritage so that their children and future generations would embrace and safeguard our precious history, practices and unique role in this world. We invite members and non-members alike to perform what is perhaps one of the most significant Mitzvot of all, to be founders and partners in this entity that is dedicated to the perpetuation of Sephardic Jewish ideals and legacies that have withstood the test of time. We invite you to take full advantage of this joyful and exciting opportunity, to invest in our proud tradition.

325 E. 75th St. New York, NY 10021, 212-988-6085,

Moise Safra Community Center: A Place to Call Home

Building community relationships through traditional Sephardic values is a central component of Moise Safra Community Center (MSCC), a nonprofit organization committed to transforming and revitalizing the physical and social landscape of the Jewish community in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The Moise Safra Community Center is to be the premier Jewish social, recreational, cultural and educational center that serves all of the Jewish community of Manhattan. It will be a welcoming Jewish neighborhood that links every Jew to the home, the community and the rest of the Jewish world. With over 65,000 square feet of space, Moise Safra Community Center is currently under construction, and is slated for completion by the Fall, 2015. Thanks to our beloved benefactor Mr. Moise Safra, A’H, his wonderful family and the vision and foresight of our Community’s leaders, MSCC will provide a world-class facility for Jewish families, where Jews from Manhattan and around the world can call home all year around. Some of the highlights of the Moise Safra Community Center:

• A magnificent Sephardic Synagogue that will hold up to 350 people

• A small Sanctuary on the floor above and a beautiful Beit Midrash

• A Wellness Center, complete with two Yoga/Dance rooms, Pilates room, weight/training area and Therapy room

• A Swimming Pool and lounge area

• A dedicated Culinary Arts Room with a demonstration kitchen

• A dedicated Art Room with a kiln

• A Living Room Lounge for any personal meetings or gatherings

• A Teen/Shabbat Space for our kids to gather and socialize safely

• A Basketball Court for exercise and

• Two floors of various use Community Center rooms

• A breathtaking Banquet Hall, which will have an outdoor, heated Terrace

• A rooftop Playground and Sukkah area with all new play equipment

Jewish communities like ours are working to shape the future for our children and their families by investing in a safe and nurturing environment. We are truly looking forward to the completion of our building. In the meantime, we’ve already begun programming and hosting events for all of our future members. More volunteers are needed!

Would you like to join us in supporting the Moise Safra Community Center?

We welcome all levels of naming opportunities and contributions. For a complete list of sponsorships, or to make a donation, please contact Rebecca Harary, Executive Director at 212-652-7575 or,

Pride Caterers

We will take you step by step through the party planning process and give you all the information and encouragement you need

We can cater in your home, Synagogue or party facility. We believe your party can take place anywhere.

We will work with you to design the perfect menu with your input and budget in mind.

We will provide staff to attend to every need with seamless efficiency and trained precision.

We will work with your designer, florist and entertainment to ensure balance and symmetry, so you can spend your time with your guests.

Basically, we will do it all. And most importantly….We will be there. An owner will be with you from start to finish.

For more information please contact: Steve Rubenfeld – 646–369-2510;
Marty Grossel – 201–410-3278;;, 420 East 79th Street. New York, NY 10075.

Queens Jewish Community Council

The Queens Jewish Community Council serves as a non-profit, non-partisan body for action and services for residents and organizations in Queens. Established in 1968, QJCC is pledged to improving the economic, cultural and social prosperity of the needy in the borough through a wide range of social services, cultural and educational programs. It is the lead agency of 146 faith-based organizations serving over 15,000 clients from birth to advanced senior years annually.

Thousands of Jewish poor and near-poor are positively impacted by the work of the Queens Jewish Community Council coming for assistance and support services including entitlement assistance, medical insurance facilitation, immigrant services, senior programming, women empowerment, pre-job training, family counselling, domestic violence victims’ assistance, youth mentoring, Kosher food pantry distributing over 1,500 packages a month and Kosher meals-on-wheels delivered to 130 advanced aged homebound elderly.

QJCC is committed to preserving the Jewish presence in Queens by offering year round cultural events, workshops and programming emphasizing the borough’s active and diverse Jewish community. To celebrate the unique aspects of the Jewish musical heritage, QJCC coordinates a free summer concert series, entitled “Jewish Music Under the Stars” at Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike in Hillcrest, NY.

QJCC is the united voice of Queens representing the borough’s Jewish institutions and organizing actions and events on behalf of Israel and other Jewish causes.

For further information and assistance please contact: Queens Jewish Community Council, 119-45 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375, 718-544-9033;