Sephardi Jewry's Resurgent Cultural Confidence

The Zoom-seder ruling was intended to ease human suffering, but it was also, in effect, a maneuver for influence within the Sephardi rabbinate and a bid to resist historical forgetfulness.





A family celebrating the North African Jewish holiday of Mimouna in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on April 15, 2020. Edi Israel/Flash90.
Response
May 26 2020
About the author

Aryeh Tepper teaches at Ben-Gurion University and is a senior research fellow at its Center for Israel Studies. He is also the director of publications for the American Sephardi Federation.


Intellectual charity dictates that we try to understand the Zoom-seder ruling as did the rabbinic scholars who proffered it. Chaim Saiman’s essay, “In Rejecting the Zoom Seder, What Did Orthodox Jews Affirm?,” is a learned and thought-provoking response to that ruling, but because he misses the intra-Sephardi dynamics of Israeli Jewish life that animated the decision, his essay does not comprehend what the members of the Association of Scholars of the Maghreb in the Land of Israel thought they were doing. By grounding their decision in the legitimacy of North African tradition and by assuming that tradition’s relevance for the nation of Israel as a whole, the Zoom-seder ruling is an expression of the cultural confidence of a resurgent community.

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More about: Halakhah, Religion & Holidays, Zoom Seder