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Mexico

(582 words)

Author(s): Evelyn Dean-Olmsted
Sephardim and Mizraḥim make up more than half of Mexico’s nearly forty thousand Jews. In Mexico City, where over 98 percent of the country’s Jews reside, the four major Jewish subgroups maintain separate organizations—including synagogues, schools, and community centers—based on place of ancestral origin. Three of these organizations represent Sephardi and Mizraḥi Jews: the Comunidad Sefaradí for descendants of Judeo-Spanish speakers from Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans; the Comunidad Maguén David for descendants of Jews from Aleppo; and the   Alianza Monte Sinai for those …

Women, Middle Eastern — General Observations

(965 words)

Author(s): Evelyn Dean-Olmsted
Gender relations among Middle Eastern Jews have long been described by outsiders as “traditional” and “patriarchal” (terms that often thinly conceal the notion of “backwardness”). However, historical and ethnographic evidence reveals that there has been great diversity in the lives and roles of Mizraḥi women throughout history, and that Middle Eastern Jewish attitudes about women have so many nuances that they cannot be easily categorized as “traditional” versus “modern.” What follows is an atte…

Venezuela

(661 words)

Author(s): Evelyn Dean-Olmsted
Sephardi/Mizraḥi Jews make up roughly 40 percent of Venezuela’s Jewish population of about 15,400 and boast a long and important role in the history of the nation. As Jacob Carciente has described, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch Sephardim were the three streams that initially shaped Venezuelan Jewish life. After a few short-lived settlements of Italian and Portuguese Jews before the eighteenth century, favorable economic conditions and nearby Dutch-controlled islands enticed many  Dutch Sephardim to trade in Venezuelan ports. The country’s first synagogue existed in Tucacas fr…