Throughout his life, Ben-Zion Meir Hai Ouziel (1880-1953), the first Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, held fast to a vision of breaking down the divisions among Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Jews from other lands. Daniel Bouskila writes:
[D]espite holding an official title and position that seems to have ethnic and particularistic overtones, Ouziel was an outspoken proponent of Jewish unity. He passionately sought to abolish the traditional ethnic divisions among Jews, especially in Israel. His push for Jewish unity was persistent and thorough, and he articulated his vision of Jewish unity in many forums, including public addresses, written position papers, and halakhic rulings. . . .
Fully aware of the 1,900-year history in which Jews lived as separate and distinct communities throughout the Diaspora—with different rabbis, customs, languages, prayer rituals, and halakhic rulings—Ouziel nonetheless believed that unifying the Jewish people “should not be a difficult task” because the divisions born in the Diaspora were alien to the essence of the Jewish people. He did not consider his desire to abolish the Diaspora’s divisions into Sephardim and Ashkenazim to be a new or radical idea, but a return to [the Jews’] true nature.