today’s the best day ever because it’s my girl @chelonate‘s birthday! she’s been my best friend for a few years now & I often wonder what I did to deserve her. latte, you’re the sweetest, most selfless person I know and you make a lot of people happy just by being apart of our lives, so you better spoil yourself today!!

I love you so much, you big dork ♡ happy birthday!

Arvan Khoer, Shaar Jhungid ( Latte’s ), Shalarissa Evermore ( tumblr-less? ), Tengri Qestir ( @tenten-ooc ), Eritani Haragin ( mine ), Kyuusei Miyamatsu ( @forever-halone )

Shaar HaShamaim Synagogue in Belem, Brazil, 1984. Photo by Abraham Amzalak. 

“Shaar Hashamaim” in Hebrew, “Porta do Ceu” in Portuguese, or “Gate of Heaven” in English, is the name of the first synagogue established by the Sephardi Jews who immigrated from Morocco to Brazil in the 19th century. The blue and white two storied structure was built in Colonial style in 1824 by Judah Eliezer Levy.

Gunaah ka bhoj jo gardaan pai hum utaa ke chale

Khuda ke ahge khijalat se, sar jhuka ke chale

Milla jinay unay ustaad-e-gi se aauj mila

Unhi nay khayi hai tauhkar, jo sar uta ke chale

Anees, daam ka bharoosa nahi, tehr jao

Chiraag laykay kahan samne hawa ke chale?

— Mir Anees

SYRIA. Aleppo governorate. Aleppo. March 9, 2017. Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar, 70, smokes his pipe as he sits in his destroyed bedroom, listening to music on his hand-cranked gramophone in the city’s formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighbourhood. Anis had recently returned to Aleppo, with plans to rebuild not only his home, but his large collection of vintage American cars, despite everything being reduced to wreckage and rubble. When reporters asked him about the gramophone, he responded “I will play it for you, but first, I have to light my pipe. Because I never listen to music without it.”

Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty

Wherever we live in the world, music connect us all.

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, 70 years old, smokes his pipe and consoles himself with music from his gramophone as he sits in his destroyed home in Aleppo’s al-Shaar neighbourhood.
March 2017.

Photo Credit: Joseph Eid / AFP

What was the relationship between Sephardim and Ashkenazim on the West Coast?

By Leora Singer, Former Research Intern

This is my second blog post in a series of three posts in which I discuss the theme of Sephardim in the West Coast in the 19th-20th century. You can see my first post here. In this post, I compare and contrast the relationship between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Seattle and San Francisco.


When Calvo and Policar (the first two Sephardim in Seattle) first encountered the Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews living in the city, they weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. These observant Jews didn’t believe that Policar and Calvo were “real Jews” because they spoke Greek instead of Yiddish (Adatto, 56), and their names didn’t “sound Jewish” (Angel, 553). Because they felt ostracized by the Jewish community, Calvo and Policar spent a lot of time with Greek non-Jews living in Seattle (Adatto, 58). Fortunately, the rabbi of Bikur Holim, an Orthodox synagogue, convinced the Orthodox Ashkenazim that the Sephardim were just as observant as they were. The Ashkenazim accepted Calvo and Policar as members of the Jewish people.

The Seattle Sephardic community kept growing as Calvo and Policar brought family members over, and these family members spread the word about the opportunities available in Seattle (Adatto, 60). In 1904, the first Rhodesli Sephardic immigrant came to Seattle (FitzMorris, 29). As the number of Sephardim in Seattle grew, their ties to the overall Jewish community of Seattle grew. Many Sephardim prayed at Bikur Holim. They felt somewhat connected to the Orthodox Ashkenazim because they, like the Sephardim, upheld high religious standards (Adatto, 116). However, the perception was that their cultures were just too different to mix together, so the Sephardim and Orthodox Ashkenazim remained fairly separate. For example, intermarriage between the two groups was highly rare (Adatto, 117).

Despite its rocky nature, the beginning of the relationship between Orthodox Sephardim and Orthodox Ashkenazim was still stronger than the beginning of the relationship between Sephardim and Reform Ashkenazim. The Sephardim distrusted the Reform Ashkenazim because they believed that the Reform Ashkenazim were not following enough of the Jewish traditions. Fortunately, Aubrey Levy from the Reform Temple de Hirsch helped to change this negative view of Reform Judaism by forming a friendship with the Sephardic Jews. As a lawyer, he helped Sephardim with legal work, free of charge. For example, in 1914, he assisted them with the legal logistics in the purchase of the (previously Ashkenazi-owned) Bikur Holim synagogue (Adatto, 118-119). Levy was highly regarded by the Sephardim. By association, his synagogue became highly regarded as well. In fact, many Sephardic children got their Jewish education at the Hebrew School of Temple de Hirsch. However, even after many years, there was still very little intermarriage. The Sephardim still did not feel like a part of Ashkenazi culture.

San Francisco:

There was a temporary Sephardic congregation in the early 1850s (Zerin, 30). The congregation was called Shaar Hashamayim. It was so temporary that it never even had a building because the congregation stopped meeting only a few months after its creation (Zerin, 47). This is likely because the construction of new buildings for two Ashkenazi-run synagogues, Temple Emanu-El and Temple Sherith- Israel, was underway. Since the Sephardim and Ashkenazim in San Francisco were united, (especially in comparison to these sects in other West Coast cities) the Sephardim didn’t want to divide it by having their own synagogue. Also, some members of the Sephardic congregation had been leaders in the other synagogues, because they were so prominent and respected by the Ashkenazim (Stern and Kramer, 47).

Sephardim from San Francisco are sometimes difficult to identify because intermarriage with Ashkenazim and even non-Jews was common (Stern and Kramer, 45). This practice showed a stark difference between the Jews of San Francisco and in other West Coast cities. In the other cities, intermarriage between pretty much anyone that was not a Jew from your home country was frowned upon.


Adatto, Albert. Sephardim and the Seattle Sephardic Community. Seattle: U of Washington, 1939. Print.

Angel, Marc D., Hasson, Aron, Kramer, William M., Maimon, Isaac, Samuels, Beth, Sidell, Loraine, Stern, Norton B. Sephardic Jews in the West Coast States : An Anthology. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Published for the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles by the Western States Jewish History Association, 1996. Print. Western States Jewish History ; v. 28, No. 1-3.

Stern, Stephen. The Sephardic Jewish Community of Los Angeles. New York: Arno, 1980. Print. Folklore of the World (New York).

Zerin, Edward. Jewish San Francisco. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2006. Print. Images of America

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, or Abu Omar, 70, smokes his pipe as he sits in his destroyed bedroom listening to music on his gramophone in Aleppo’s formerly rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood on March 9. Photo by Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Three Israelis murdered in Samaria stabbing attack - 22 July 2017

Three Israelis were murdered on Friday evening in a stabbing attack in the Shomron (Samaria) community of Halamish, located to the north of Ramallah.
A terrorist broke into a home in the community as the residents were in the middle of their Shabbat dinner, stabbing four people. Two men, one in his 40s and one in his 60s, and a woman in her 40s, suffered critical injuries and were later pronounced dead.
A 60-year-old woman suffered moderate-to-serious injuries in the attack and was evacuated by Magen David Adom paramedics to the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.
The terrorist, identified as 19-year-old Omar al-Abed from the nearby Palestinian Arab village of Kaubar, was shot by a neighbor, suffering serious injuries.
IDF troops are conducting searches in and around the community and checking whether other terrorists were involved.
Magen David Adom paramedic Ehud Amiton, who was at the scene, said, “When we entered the house, we saw four people with stab wounds. Three of the wounded were unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing. We gave them medical treatment that included dressing the wounds and stopping the bleeding, and carried out advanced and prolonged resuscitation operations.”
“Another 60-year-old woman who was conscious and suffered from stab wounds to her upper body was treated at the scene and evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Hospital in moderate-to-serious condition,” he added.

The One and Only Word Echad

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָד (דברים ו, ד)HEAR, O ISRAEL: HASHEM IS OUR G-D, HASHEM IS ONE. (DEVARIM 6:4) 

This verse expresses Judaism’s cardinal principle: belief in the singular existence of G-d. The deeper meaning of this “oneness” is that not only is there no deity other than G-d, but G-d is the one and only true existence. I.e., nothing exists outside of Him. Since G-d’s will is the cause of any and all existence, the true identity of every being is the will of G-d that is continuously causing it to exist (see Tanya, Shaar HaYichud V’HaEmunah, at length.)

This idea is hinted to by the Hebrew word echad, “one,” spelled אחד. The numerical values of its three letters are one, eight and four, respectively. The ח, equaling eight, is symbolic of the seven skies and one earth (see Sefer Mitzvos Katan #2). The ד, equaling four, represents the four directions—north, south, east and west. The א, which equals one, represents our singular G-d, Who is Master over all that exists in heaven and earth and in all four directions (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61:6).

This demonstrates the difference between Lashon Hakodesh—the sacred language of the Torah, and all other languages. The ten utterances with which G-d created the world (see Mishnah, Avos 5:1), were stated in Lashon Hakodesh (Rashi, Bereishis 2:23). Hence, words in Lashon Hakodesh are not arbitrary; each word reflects the Divine energy animating the particular object it refers to, and captures the essential character of that object. In contrast, all other languages form by human consensus; the words do not reflect the essential nature of the articles or ideas to which they refer (see Shnei Luchos Habris 3a).

This is evident in the Aramaic translation of the word one,chad, as rendered by Targum Onkelos on this verse. The word chad contains a ח and a ד, representing all of creation, as explained above, but it is missing the א, which represents G-d. Though the meaning of the word chad is “one,” and in this context expresses the idea of G-d’s singular existence (just as the word echad does), the truth of this oneness is not as obvious and revealed in the Aramaic word as it is in Lashon Hakodesh.

—Toras Menachem 5743, vol. 1, p. 264