La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States

La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States

La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States

La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States

Excerpt

Friday, June 13, 1941, was a gray, rainy day. A group of Sephardic Jews braved the downpour to attend a funeral at the Zion Memorial Chapel, at 41 Canal Street in the Lower East Side of New York. The deceased was Moise Gadol.

Gadol's wife had died in 1933; they had had no children. Several nephews and nieces, some acquaintances from the past, and a curious onlooker or two paid their last respects to Moise Gadol. The eulogy was delivered by the chief rabbi of the Central Sephardic Jewish Community of America, the distinguished scholar and author, Rabbi Nissim Ovadia. He spoke briefly, indicating that he had hardly known the deceased but that he was sure Gadol had done various good deeds during his lifetime.

The burial was at Mt. Zion cemetery in Queens. It was not possible to arrange for Gadol to be buried next to his wife, so he was interred in a family plot belonging to relatives. The grave was not part of a Sephardic section of the cemetery -- nearly all the graves in the area were of Ashkenazic Jews.

Until his death, Gadol had lived alone in very poor conditions. During the last eight years of his life, following the death of his wife, he was melancholy, dyspeptic, and subject to fits of madness. Some questioned his sanity. A Sephardic woman who had operated a restaurant that Gadol frequented recalls that the customers used to . . .

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