The Other Jews: The Sephardim Today

The Other Jews: The Sephardim Today

The Other Jews: The Sephardim Today

The Other Jews: The Sephardim Today

Excerpt

It is a Friday night—Sabbath eve—in Jerusalem, July 1987. An extended family with guests is sitting around the table for Sabbath dinner, and the talk turns to the trial of John Demjanjuk, who was accused (and later convicted) of being "Ivan the Terrible," one of the scourges of the Sobibor concentration camp in World War II. Since the hosts are a mixed couple—he, Sephardi, and she, Ashkenazi—it is not surprising that the company is also mixed: by happenstance, six Sephardim and six Ashkenazim, including people born in Israel, Iraq, Russia, Lithuania, England, and at least two American states. The conversation focuses around one in the company who cannot see any reason for Israel to be spending so much time and money on this trial so many years after the war. Some suggest that the Sephardim, particularly those from Africa and Asia, do not feel the Holocaust in the same way as the Ashkenazim, who suffered directly or through their families. There is general agreement with one exception, the host, whose view that there is no appreciable difference on the subject between Ashkenazim and Sephardim is dismissed as overoptimistic.

Who, then, was least concerned about the trial of John Demjanjuk? Curiously enough, it was one of the Ashkenazim, an older woman, American-born, who had lost family in the Holocaust. On the other . . .

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