May 19, 2024
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Moriah Celebrates Sephardic Culture

Monday marked the first Moriah Sephardic Culture program of the school year.

In kindergarten the teachers explained that different families may enjoy a variety of customs when it comes to which foods are eaten and what they symbolize. The classes learned that a variety of customs and lifestyles developed over time, which include different types of dress, cuisine, holiday celebrations and languages. For example, depending on the country/community that one’s family originated from, that could determine which symbolic foods are eaten Rosh Hashanah night. The classes discussed the two general groups, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, and shared that Moriah has students whose families originated in many different countries. After the discussion, students enjoyed a Rosh Hashanah seder, Sephardi style!

During the month of Elul, lower and middle school students learned about Sephardic customs leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Middle School Rabbi and Director of Moriah’s Sephardic Culture Program Rabbi Kuessous spoke to the students about customs like Sephardic Selichot starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the difference in the Selichot tunes for Sephardim, and the Sephardic new year greetings. The students enjoyed watching a video of over 100,000 Sephardic Jews gathering at the Kotel for Selichot. Rabbi Kuessous finished the lesson by introducing the students to the Ben Ish Chai, Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad. The Ben Ish Chai, whose yahrzeit is in Elul, is a major figure in Sephardic Jewry. Rabbi Kuessous shared the incredible story of how the American military uncovered thousands of holy books and writings in Iraq, including manuscripts from the Ben Ish Chai.

Moriah looks forward to more opportunities throughout the year to experience Sephardic traditions.

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