SEPHARDIC is a State of Mind
SEC Director, Rabbi Daniel Bouskila:
Being Sephardic is much more than one’s ethnic background, cuisine, or a particulate set of customs and traditions. It is a Jewish way of life that all Jews can benefit from. There are no denominational ideologies or affiliations. Much like Maimonides before us, we strive for a tolerant middle path.
While not a denomination or movement, Sephardic Judaism- with its creative and unique blend of tradition, modernity, tolerance, spirituality and culture- indeed embodies a distinct philosophy and approach to Judaism. Much like one does not have to come from a Hasidic background to adopt the modes and teachings of Sephardic Rebbes, we also need not be from an ethnic Sephardic background to adopt the Sephardic way of life.
The SEC is dedicated to strengthening Jewish identity for youth and young adults, and to building a new generation of spiritual and community leaders. From our historic campus in the Old City of Jerusalem to our various diaspora branches, the SEC’S philosophy of Classic Sephardic Judaism offers Jews an opportunity to connect with their roots in a warm, friendly and positive environment. At the SEC, tradition meets modernity, and the timeless values of intellect, unity, compassion and tolerance blend to create a meaningful connection to Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people.
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‘Let us remember that we Sephardim always blended material, emotional and spiritual values in a way of life. We need a second Golden Age, brought about by a true renaissance based on education.”
-Founder Dr. Jose A. Nessim (z”l)
Rav Ben Zion Meir Hai Uziel, Z”L
On Torah and the Modern World:
Our holiness will not be complete if we separate ourselves from human life, from human phenomena, pleasures and charms, but only if we are nourished by all the new developments in the world, by all the wonderous discoveries, by all the philosophical and scientific ideas which flourish and multiply in our world, We are enriched and nourished by sharing in the knowledge of the world.
Our Founder, Dr. Jose A. Nessim (z”l) started the Sephardic Educational Center with the goal of promoting and preserving the Sephardic approach to Judaism by blending tradition with modernity in a timeless expression of our faith.
Dr. Jose A. Nessim (z”l) began working toward bringing together the hundreds of immensely rich and diverse Sephardic communities from around the globe and ensuring that the Sephardic traditions would be properly respected and firmly established in the modern world. The Sephardic worldview is one that stresses tradition, but moderation and tolerance. It shies away from radicalism and endeavors to find the intersection of the spiritual and traditional realms of faith and religion with the modern and secular world.
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Help us in the Mitzvah of spreading Classic Sephardic Judaism’s beautiful message of tradition, modernity and tolerance.
The main campus of the SEC is located in the middle of Jerusalem, a place filled with a tremendous amount of history.
This location was once the focal point of the Sephardic community in the Old City of Jerusalem. The “Courtyard Building” once housed the “Talmud Torah” (religious school) Tiferet Yerushalayim (est. 1874) and the Tiferet Yerushalayim Rabbinical School (est. 1890), the schools which served the residents of the Old City until the fall of the Jewish Quarter to the Jordanians during the War of Independence in 1948. A
long with the adjacent Four Sephardi Synagogues, this was the hub of communal life during the 19th century where inhabitants alternatively spoke Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish and Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, brought by the Jews to the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century.
These premises also served as living quarters for widows and orphans of the community and in our adjacent wing above the Yochanan Ben Zakai Synagogue was the residence of the “Haham Bashi” (Chief Rabbi or Rishon Letzion) during Ottoman times.