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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - April 13, 2008

Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List – April 13, 2008

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)judnea(dot)umass(dot)edu>

Week of Sunday, April 13, 2008 (8 Nissan 5768)


For archived issues please visit:



1. Vanessa Paloma’s Ladino Music Performance/Research Trip in Morocco (Paloma)

2. Conference: North African Jews During World War II (Simon)

3. Call for Papers: AJS 2008 Panel on "Zionism and women" (Brodsky)

4. News From Yemen via the _Jerusalem Post_: Empty Jewish Homes Destroyed (Dahbany-Miraglia)

5. Haroset recipes for Passover (Ripsman Eylon)

6. Article: “The Final Exodus of the Libyan Jews in 1967” (Roumani)


1. Vanessa Paloma’s Ladino Music Performance/Research Trip in Morocco (Paloma)

From:             Vanessa Paloma <cantos(at)vanessapaloma(dot)com>

Date:             Mon, 07 Apr 2008 10:51:28 +0000

Subject: singing for the generations in Casablanca

Here is a link to a video made by Maurice Elbaz (a Casablanca-based music producer) taking footage from a couple of performances I did for the Alliance Universelle preschool and the Jewish Old Age Home in Casablanca last Hannukah.

I'm also excited to say that I'll be scholar in residence at HBI in Brandeis University next fall to work on the materials gathered during the Fulbright.

Vanessa Paloma

Quartier Beni Ider

Rue Sidi Amar Alilech 9

Tangier Medina


Cell 212 4161 99 24

[ed: very slight edit]


2. Conference: North African Jews During World War II (Simon)

From: Rachel Simon <rsimon(at)Princeton(dot)EDU>

Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 10:00:34 -0400

This link will give you the program of the conference at Ben Zvi Institute of North African Jews during WWII:

Rachel Simon

[ed: very slight edit]


3. Call for Papers: AJS 2008 Panel on "Zionism and women" (Brodsky)

From: "Adriana M Brodsky" <ambrodsky(at)smcm(dot)edu>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 19:45:25 -0400

Is somebody interested in putting together a panel on Zionism and women for the AJS?  My work deals with Sephardic Zionist women in Argentina, but I have studied Argentine Zionist women in general. Please contact me off list at ambrodsky(at)smcm(dot)edu

Dr. Adriana Mariel Brodsky

St. Mary's College of Maryland



4. News From Yemen via the _Jerusalem Post_: Empty Jewish Homes Destroyed (Dahbany-Miraglia)

From: AIYUNEE(at)aol(dot)com

via:             ddmqcc(at)att(dot)net

Date:             Wed, 09 Apr 2008 14:33:36 +0000

 <> The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Yemen: Empty Jewish homes destroyed


Apr. 7, 2008

In the latest attack targeting Yemen's few remaining Jews, rebel Houthi militiamen destroyed several homes that had belonged to the now-absent Jewish community in the northwestern Saada province.

"The Houthis destroyed part of my house and looted it," Rabbi Yehia Youssuf told Reuters in the capital, San'a.

All 67 members of Saada's Jewish community fled following threats from the Houthis, the rabbi says. Some locals say the Jews were threatened because they had been selling wine to Muslims - an accusation the Jews deny, according to Reuters.

A local said the Shi'ite rebels attacked the houses of other Jews after looting the rabbi's.

Around 400 Jews remain in the majority Sunni state, the remnant of an ancient, close-knit community that, while remaining connected to Jewish intellectual and legal developments outside Yemen, managed to insulate itself culturally until the 20th century.

According to Dr. Dov Levitan, a scholar of Yemenite Jewry at Bar-Ilan University and the Academic College of Ashkelon, the Houthi clan targets Jews to embarrass the government internationally.

Apparently unrelated intertribal fighting in the province killed at least 15 people in recent days as the Houthi tribe continued its intermittent violence, begun in June 2004, against the central government and its allies.

Since the early 1990s, the Yemeni government "has been very conscious of its international image," explains Levitan. "So important is the country's image to its government that the Jews have excellent government protection."

When their situation in Saada became precarious about a year ago, "they were flown out in a government plane to San'a. They receive a small stipend and live in a compound protected by state security forces. This kind of concern would have been unimaginable just 15 years ago," he says.

The government's concern for its image, together with pressure from American Jewish groups and US legislators, led Yemen in the early 1990s to permit most of the remaining 2,000 Jews to emigrate to Israel and elsewhere, continuing a centuries-long trickle of aliya from the country. At the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, around 35,000 Yemenite Jews lived in Israel. Another 50,000 came in the immediate aftermath of the War of Independence.

Most of the 1,600 Jews who left Yemen during the 1990s now live in Rehovot.

The question of why Jews remain in Yemen remains.

"We have contact with these Jews. They're not the Jews who came 60 years ago," the large wave of poor refugees who fled pogroms in Operation Magic Carpet, Levitan says. "They're more educated, they're better dressed, they wear watches and drive cars. Some of them have traveled overseas. They have property there, and they are connected historically. They don't want to leave a place that has been their natural environment for generations."

The Yemenite Jewish community claims to have existed since the time of the First Temple, 2,600 years ago. While this claim has not been verified, "we know with certainty that they were there for at least 1,500 years," says Levitan.

Despite its unique customs and liturgy, Yemenite Jewry was never disconnected from the broader Jewish world. "For example, we know that the letters of the [medieval Jewish philosopher and legalist] Maimonides arrived in Yemen. We know from the 14th to the 16th centuries they were connected enough to receive the Shulchan Aruch [halachic codex]. And in the 18th and 19th centuries they received printed Jewish prayer books and Talmuds from abroad when there was no Jewish press in Yemen," he said.

Other pressures also affect the decision of Jews to remain. The anti-Zionist Satmar hassidim work to persuade the community not to move to Israel. "They give the remaining Jews money and holy books, take them to New York and London - anything to keep them from going to Israel," says Levitan.

Also, the government's concern and protection are seen as complete and genuine by the community, he says.

Article forwarded by:

Dina Dahbany-Miraglia Ph.D.

Associate Professor-Retired

Queensborough Community College &

MEMEAC (Middle East& Middle East

American Center)

The City University of New York (CUNY)


5. Haroset recipes for Passover (Ripsman Eylon)

From: "Dina Ripsman Eylon" <dina(dot)eylon(at)utoronto(dot)ca>

via: ddmqcc(at)att(dot)net

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2008 14:55:54 +0000

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: Scholars interested in cultural dimensions of Sephardi/Mizrahi civilization may find these recipes relevant. Slight edit; only non-Ashkenazi recipes are included.]

Haroset recipes for Passover

Haroset (also charoset or charoses), the blend of fruit and nuts symbolizing the mortar which our forefathers used to build pyramids in Egypt, is one of the most popular and discussed foods served at the Seder. The fruit and nuts found in almost all haroset recipes refer to two verses in the Song of Songs closely linked with the spring season: "Under the apple tree I awakened thee" (8:5) and "I went down into the garden of nuts" (6:11). The red wine recalls the Red Sea, which parted its waters for the Jews. [Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: this is a folkloric origin; the correct translation of the Yam Suf is Reed Sea, not Red sea.]

The real purpose of the haroset is to allay the bitterness of the maror (bitter herbs) required at the Seder. And from this combination of the haroset and maror between two pieces of matzo, the sandwich may have been invented by the Rabbi Hillel, the great Jewish teacher who lived between 90 BCE and 70CE. Haroset also shows how Jewish cookery was developed by the emigration from Mediterranean countries to Eastern Europe and by local ingredients supplemented or discarded based on their availability.

Although most American Jews are familiar with the mixture of apples, almonds, cinnamon, wine and ginger, this is by no means the only combination possible. Walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts or chestnuts may be combined with apricots, coconuts, raisins, dates, figs, or even bananas.

Whereas Ashkenazic (Eastern European) haroset is quite universal, differing only texturally, that of the Sephardic (Spanish/Arabic/Mediterranean) Jews changes according to the country and sometimes even the city of origin. On the island of Rhodes, for example, dates, walnuts, ginger and sweet wine are used. The Greek city of Salonika adds raisins to this basic recipe; Turkish Jews, not far away, include an orange. Egyptians eat dates, nuts, raisins and sugar, without the ginger or wine. Yemenites use chopped dates and figs, coriander and chili pepper. An interesting haroset from Venice has chestnut paste and apricots, while one from Suriname, calls for seven fruits including coconut. Each Israeli uses the Diaspora haroset recipe of his ancestors or an Israeli version that might include pignolia nuts, peanuts, bananas, apples, dates, sesame seeds, matzo meal and red wine.

Most people like their haroset recipe so well that it is not only spread on matzo and dipped in horseradish at the Seder table. Some families make large quantities to be eaten for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout Passover.

Egyptian Haroset

*       1 pound raisins

*       8 ounces pitted dates

*       2 cup water

*       1/4 cup sugar

*       1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cover raisins and dates with water; let stand 1 hr. Add the sugar and blend or food-process until roughly chopped. Transfer to a heavy saucepan and simmer 20 min or until fruits are cooked and water is absorbed. When cool, stir in chopped nuts.

Makes 4 cups.

Larry Bain's Bubie's Haroset

*       1/2 pound walnuts

*       1/4 pound dried apricots

*       1/4 pound dried prunes, without pits

*       3 peeled apples, cored and quartered

*       1 large navel oranges, with skin, quartered

*       1/2 cup sweet wine

*       2 tablespoon brandy

*       1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*       1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

*       1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

*       1 tablespoon lime juice

*       2 tablespoon matzo meal (or as needed)

Using the steel blade of a food processor, chop very fine, but not to a paste, the walnuts, apricots, prunes, dates, apples and orange. Add the wine, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and lime juice. If needed, add enough matzo meal to make a mortar-like consistency.

Makes 6 cups  

Persian Haroset 

*       25 dates, pitted and diced

*       1/2 cup unsalted pistachios

*       1/2 cup almonds

*       1/2 cup golden raisins

*       1 1/2 peeled apples, cored and diced

*       1 pomegranates

*       1 orange, peeled and diced

*       1 banana, sliced

*       1/2 cup sweet red wine, to 1 cup

*       1/4 cup cider vinegar

*       1/2 tablespoon cayenne

*       1 tablespoon ground cloves

*       1 tablespoon ground cardamom

*       1 teaspoon cinnamon

*       1 tablespoon black pepper 

Combine all the fruits and nuts. Add the wine and vinegar until a pasty consistency is achieved. Add the spices and blend well. Adjust seasonings.

Makes 5 cups.

Seven-Fruit Haroset from Suriname

*       8 ounce unsweetened coconut

*       8 ounce chopped walnuts or 8 ounce grated almonds

*       1/4 cup sugar

*       1 tablespoon cinnamon

*       8 ounce raisins

*       8 ounce dried apples

*       8 ounce dried prunes

*       8 ounce dried apricots

*       8 ounce dried pears

*       4 ounce cherry jam

*       sweet red wine

Combine everything except the jam and wine in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over low heat. Periodically, add small amounts of water to prevent sticking. Cook at least 90 minutes. When it is cohesive, stir in the jam and let stand until cool. Add enough sweet wine to be absorbed by the haroset and chill.

Makes 5 cups.

Many Sephardic Jews relocated to what is today the Netherlands at the time of the Inquisition. From there, some went to Dutch colonies, often engaging in the sugar trade. Mrs. Abraham Lopes Cardozo (nee Robles) is a fine cook who makes an effort to preserve for her family and friends her Surinam culinary heritage. She is the wife of the late cantor of Shearith Israel Congregation in New York City; he is the former minister of the Sephardic Congregation in Surinam.

At Passover, Surinamese customs are quite unusual. Mrs. Cardozo explained, for instance, that matzot were a rarity in Surinam. Because they had to be imported from the Netherlands (and later, the US), cassava (a kind of potato) meal was often used instead to bake sweet breads for Passover. The potato was first grated and washed, then dried in the sun for weeks. Once dried, it was ready to be mixed with other ingredients, much as we use matzo cake meal.

Venetian Haroset

*       1 1/2 cup chestnut paste

*       10 ounce dates, chopped

*       12 ounce figs, chopped

*       2 tablespoon poppy seeds

*       1/2 cup chopped walnuts

*       1/2 cup chopped almonds

*       1/2 cup pine nuts

*       grated rind of 1 orange

*       1/2 cup golden raisins

*       1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

*       1/2 cup brandy

*       honey, to bind

Combine all ingredients, using just enough honey and brandy to make everything bind together.

Makes 4 cups.

This delicious haroset recipe comes from the famous Luzzato family of Venice. Members of the family have lived in Italy since 1541 and probably before. names like Benedetto Luzzato, Simone Luzzato, Moses Haim Luzzato and Samuel David Luzzato were well known to Italians from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment as authors, professors and rabbis. Francis Luzzato of Washington DC works for the Peace Corps and is a keeper of family traditions; this is his family's recipe.

Yemenite Haroset

*       1 pound fresh dates

*       1 pound raisins

*       3/4 pound almonds

*       1/2 pound walnuts

*       3 pomegranates, peeled and seeded

*       1 tablespoon mixed spices (equal parts cinnamon, pepper cumin, cardamom, cloves & ginger)

  In a food processor, chop all the fruits, including the pomegranate seeds and juice and the nuts. Add the spices, adjusting each to your taste.

Makes 7 cups.

Almond HAROSET "Charoset"

8 apples

2/3 cup almonds

3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated rind of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons sweet red wine

Child: Peel the apples and cut them in quarters, removing the core. Using your chopping bowl and chopper, chop together all the ingredients. The apples and almonds should be about the size of the chunks in chunky peanut butter. Add red wine to taste.

Makes about 3 cups


1/2 cup dates, chopped

1 cup chopped apples

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons sweet red wine

Combine and refrigerate.


6. Article: “The Final Exodus of the Libyan Jews in 1967” (Roumani)

From:             JCPA-Changing Jewish Communities <cjcmail(at)list-jcpa(dot)org>

Date:             Tue, 25 Mar 2008 10:40:35 +0200

The Final Exodus of the Libyan Jews in 1967 - Maurice Roumani

Jewish Political Studies Review


For article, click here.

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