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 In Honor of Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in the City of Philadelphia since 1740, and especially Parnas Emeritus Leon Levy and Parnas Eli Gabbay, Esq., both distinguished members of ASF's Board of Directors, as well as former ASF Young Leader Rabbi Albert Gabbai for demonstrating the vitality of Classic Sephardi Judaism when hosting the recent Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Conference 

13 November 2017
Sephardi Ideas Monthly  is a continuing series of essays from the rich, multi-dimensional world of Sephardi thought that is traditionally delivered to your inbox on the second Monday of every month.

This month’s article, “Covenant and the American Founding,” is the concluding piece in our three-part series featuring the writings of Professor Daniel J. Elazar on the political concept of “covenant.” Professor Elazar (1934-1999) served as the first President of The American Sephardi Federation from 1973-75 and enjoyed a highly successful career as a political scientist, specializing in the Jewish political tradition and Federalism. Professor Elazar also studied various issues connected to Israel and world Jewry before making aliyah to Israel, where he founded and served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 

Professor Daniel J. Elazar, A”H, first President of The American Sephardi Federation and Founder of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 
(Photo courtesy of JCPA

Daniel J. Elazar

In “Covenant and the American Founding,” Elazar begins with Abraham Lincoln’s “view of the American experience as being parallel to that of biblical Israel. If Americans were not the chosen people, they were at least, in his eyes, ‘an almost chosen people.’”
What was the content of this parallel? In order to answer that question, Elazar locates the roots of Lincoln’s “sense of an American vocation” in the 17th century conviction articulated by John Winthrop, one of America’s Protestant Founders: “We are entered into Covenant with Him for this work, we have taken out a Commission....” As Elazar writes:
Almost 3,000 years after the Covenant at Sinai, the Pilgrims, who saw themselves as new Israelites embarked on a venture into their own ‘hideous and desolate wilderness,’ introduced into North America a major stream of thought derived from the biblical idea of covenant.
Click here to read “Covenant and the American Founding” by Daniel Elazar
Elazar was, of course, aware of the argument that the idea of covenant has been eclipsed in the United States by secular interpretations of America's destiny.  Nevertheless: 
While often more latent than manifest since the days of the Puritans, and partially submerged within other streams and eddies of American thought and culture -- especially secular constitutionalism -- covenant[al] ideas not only formed a significant part of the foundation of the United States, but have continued to influence American life.
How have covenantal ideas continued to influence American life? According to Elazar, the enduring power of covenantal ideas is rooted in American political structures that embody deeper, theological ideas: 
The American federal system is very much an outgrowth of both the theological and philosophic streams of thought that converged about covenant by the late seventeenth century… federalism has its roots not only in the political dimension of American society, but in the… religious dimensions as well.
The import of Elazar’s interpretation of America’s Puritan point of departure and subsequent developments, from the Revolution, Declaration of Independence and Constitution, through the growth of American society and culture, is that, even when covenantal ideas are seemingly eclipsed by secular developments, they remain implicit in the structure of American society and politics. Thus, the task for those who wish to understand the Biblical character of American life is to continually recall, and to bring to the surface, the deeper, originally covenantal core of the American system.
Feature Photo:
Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison’s banner featuring the Liberty Bell's image and inscription (from Vayikra/Leviticus XXV:X):
“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof”
Boston, MA., 1843 (Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society)
Sephardi Ideas Monthly  is honored to introduce our readers to Professor Daniel Elazar, one of the outstanding political thinkers of the twentieth century and a man whose commitment to Jewish and universal concerns grew naturally out of his deep grounding in classic Sephardi Judaism. 

The American Sephardi Federation thanks the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs for granting permission to reprint Professor Elazar’s articles for Sephardi Ideas Monthly
American Sephardi Federation
American Sephardi Federation

Call for Conference Papers!

Portrait of a Jewish boy (center left) with Muslim Yemenis in Suq al Khamis, Najran, Yemen, 1947
(Photo by Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger)

Shared Cultural Values of Jews and Muslims in Yemen and Beyond

Paper submission deadline:
Sunday, December 31, 2017

June 3-6, 2018
United Nations and Center for Jewish History

E’eleh BeTamar, an organization dedicated to sharing the rich cultural, spiritual, and scholarly history of the Jews of Yemen, is announcing a scholarly and cultural conference in conjunction with the American Sephardi Federation and the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, NJ. 

A limited number of scholarships and travel grants are available.

Please click here for information about suggested topics and how to apply for grants

Upcoming Events:

From Daniel Pearl to Steven Sotloff: Jews and Political Kidnapping

Sunday, November 19
7:00 p.m.

Leo & Julia Forchheimer Auditorium
Center for Jewish History
15 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
The Algemeiner Editor’s Club and the American Sephardi Federation cordially invites you to join us for a discussion and exclusive book signing with Jere Van Dyk, former CBS journalist and captive of the Taliban. The conversation -- which will be moderated by Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief Dovid Efune -- is titled: From Daniel Pearl to Steven Sotloff: Jews and Political Kidnapping.

Van Dyk is one of the most celebrated journalists covering the Middle East, and his new book THE TRADE: My Journey Into the Labyrinth of Political Kidnapping adds to his list of already impressive credentials. His unheralded knowledge positions him as an authority to discuss breaking news in relation to Middle Eastern geopolitics as well as his own experience being held hostage by jihadists and the ever-evolving business of political kidnapping.

The discussion will be followed by a Q & A session and a book signing. VIP entry to the event includes access to an exclusive reception preceding the talk and a signed copy of the book.

Limited seats are available, reservation required.
Please click here to purchase tickets

For further information, please click here

The Jew of Malta

Sunday, December 3
8:00 p.m.

Leo & Julia Forchheimer Auditorium

Center for Jewish History
15 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
The American Sephardi Federation proudly presents The Jew of Malta, by Christopher Marlowe, performed in a staged-reading version, adapted by and starring David Serero as Barabas and featuring Sephardi songs sung by the baritone opera star. Other cast members include: Ron Barba (Ferneze), Christopher Romero Wilson (Ithamore), Andreas Pliatsikas (Calymath), Nathan Louis Oesterle (Jew/ Merchant / Friar Jacomo), and Shawn Chang (Piano).

Please click here or call (800) 838-3006 to purchase tickets

Myopia: A Memoir
Book Talk

Wednesday, December 13
7:30 p.m.

Kovno Room

Center for Jewish History
15 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Please join us to celebrate the new publication; Myopia: A Memoir.
Phyllis Skoy’s first novel, What Survives, takes place in Turkey. Mark Aronson is an American Jew who is a professor of art history in Istanbul. He meets the protagonist of the novel, Adalet, and a relationship grows between them. Adalet is a young Turkish Muslim.  Mark's father’s side of the family is Sephardic which is why Mark is so at home in Turkey. He is raised in the Sephardic culture even though he grows up in New York City and his mother is Ashkenazi. At this time, Istanbul is a flourishing international city with inhabitants from all over the world. 

What Survives is one of a three-part series. This book takes place in the recent present. The book Ms. Skoy is currently writing focuses on the coming of the Republic of Turkey and the character of Fatma, from the first book. In the third novel, Ms. Skoy hopes to write about the terrible events in Turkey and the Erdogan government through the same characters as appear in her first novel.

In her recently published memoir, Myopia, we learn about the life of the novelist.

PHYLLIS M. SKOY lives with her husband and Australian cattle dog in Placitas, New Mexico where she settled after living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years. She currently maintains a small private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Albuquerque. 

Reservations required

Please click here to learn more and reserve tickets

International Ladino Day: A Celebration of Story and Song

Sunday, January 28, 2018
2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Leo & Julia Forchheimer Auditorium and
The Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Great Hall

Center for Jewish History
15 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Join the American Sephardi Federation for a festival of stories and songs celebrating Ladino, the remarkable language also known as Judeo-Spanish.
Dr. Jane Mushabac will perform excerpts from her highly acclaimed 2016 novel, rich with Ladino expressions: His Hundred Years, A Tale. Also hear wonderful singer/accordionist Jane Carver; renowned Sephardic thought leaders, Rabbi Marc Angel and Rabbi Nissim Elnecavé; and a musical finale by the illustrious Trio Sefardi, with Howard Bass, Tina Chancey, and Susan Gaeta, who has toured with the legendary Flory Jagoda.
In 2013 Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s 5th President and Director of the National Authority for Ladino, endorsed the idea of International Ladino Day. Since then, celebrations have been held in Jerusalem, Seattle, Istanbul, Madrid, Dallas, and Forest Hills. This will be the first festival in Manhattan!
Ladino is a bridge between cultures—it’s a Spanish language that includes words in Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, and more. It was the mother tongue of Jews in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years. In the early 20th century, about half a million people spoke Ladino. Now there are 50,000-100,000 speakers. The international resurgence of interest in Ladino and its culture is seen in distinguished university programs, publications, and events of many kinds.
Co-presented by The American Jewish Historical Society and American Sephardi Federation  

 Light refreshments will be served.

Please click here or call (800) 838-3006 to purchase tickets

Nosotros: Strengthening Bonds Between Jewish and Latino Communities

Through December 2017
in ASF’s Leon Levy Memorial Display

Center for Jewish History
15 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

The Philos Project and American Sephardi Federation cordially invite you to “Nosotros," an art exhibit featuring the work of two renowned Latino artists, Angel Urrely (Cuba) and Carlos Ayala (Puerto Rico)--as a symbolic recognition and “step forward” to improving Jewish-Latino relations.  We thank the Dominican artist, Juan Bravo, for exhibiting his pieces for the exhibit’s Opening Night. Each piece reflects the shared roots of Jewish and Latino communities and expresses hope for a more positive future from the perspective of each respective artist.

Each artist has displayed their works in hundreds of exhibits in both the US and Latin America, having many of them included in some of the most coveted collections in the world. We are very excited to bring them and their works to celebrate the importance of uniting us (or Nosotros), the Jewish and Latino communities, and having this art displayed in a very powerful way at the American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History.

Angel Urrely is to the point. This son of Cuba does not beat around the bush. At least not for what the brush comes to reveal—his theory is clear and sharp. Each frame creates a specific, assertive and brutal connection. The reading of his work is—from the perspective of the viewer—very simple, to the point that if you assume an interpretation of what you are reading, believe me: Urrely is addressing exactly what you are thinking. Urrely has something to tell you and will let you know one way or another.
Carlos Ayala presents himself as the “Benjamin” of the tribes, the youngest of them all. This son of Puerto Rico presupposes that his youth may seem an obstacle to you, so he shows you his clutched fists from the introduction. This young man is fierce. Carlos shows us the deepest pains experienced by man, and brings them to an entertained, distracted and ill-bred public. He does not sit down to dream on the Caribbean coast and wait for boats loaded with promises. He does not have the time for it, but rather wants to remind you that even at the best moments pain is present. And at any moment it can befall us.
We look forward to having you join us!

Please click here for additional information and viewing hours

 and your tax-deductible contribution will help ASF preserve and promote the Greater Sephardi history, traditions, and culture as an integral part of the Jewish experience! 

Contact us by email or phone ((917) 606-8266) to learn about giving opportunities in honor or memory of loved ones

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