First Sephardic Festival in San Diego
When I was in my 20’s, my two sisters and I lived in Mexico City in a Jewish area known as Colonia Polanco. We had an apartment on a street called Tennyson in an older run down building that had been quite lovely in its heyday. There were two Sephardic families living in the same building. The grandparents lived below us and the daughter, her husband and six kids lived above us. All day long, the grandmother and the daughter would call to each other from the kitchen as the building was open in the middle. They would talk, argue, yell and all of it was in Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jews who fled from Spain during the inquisition. Although we would shake our heads in disbelief, those years also piqued my interest in that ancient language and culture. Mexico has a large colony of Sephardic Jews, more than in the United States, and although things have changed a lot, there used to be quite a bit of prejudice between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardim, stemming, no doubt, from their differences.
That is why I had to smile on Saturday night at the Sephardic Festival held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center [JCC] this past weekend. There was a short film, “Our San Diego Sephardic Voices”, about the Sephardim in San Diego. One of the women interviewed said she was in a “mixed marriage” as her husband was Ashkenazi. Another woman spoke about the differences in food as the Sephardic eat much more rice than their eastern European counterparts. Although brief, I found the film to be very interesting and engaging. Kudos to student filmmaker, Julia Elihu on a project well done. Education and information breaks down barriers.
In the United States, the food, culture and traditions of the Ashkenazi or Eastern Europeans Jews is better known, so I applaud the JCC for presenting the lesser known culture and traditions of the Sephardic and Arab Jews from North Africa and the Middle East.