In the New Lots district, situated in the midst of the East New York, Brownsville, Crown Heights, and East Flatbush sections of Brooklyn, which together make up the most densely populated Jewish area in the world, lies an enclave with a peculiar character all its own. Where Linden Boulevard bends around East New York to link Brooklyn with Queens, five square blocks of narrow streets, made irregular by the wide sweep of Linden Boulevard and the weed-covered fields that gave New Lots its name, form a tranquil middle-class neighborhood. Here, in this enclosed little world, live a thousand Sephardic families who have built a society modeled after the Levantine countries which they left a generation or two ago.
The homes of the Sephardim are small one-or two-story affairs of sand-colored brick with double-decker porches and large back yards profuse with vegetable gardens and grape arbors. The iron fences around the houses enclose thick rows of hedges and umbrella trees, and the wooden porch railings and window frames are painted a deep green. The hushed streets of the neighborhood are dotted with a sprinkling of old-fashioned shops: a corner drug store, a tiny penny-candy store, a few coffeehouses, and an Oriental grocery featuring imported cheeses and Turkish delicacies, with strings of red onions, garlic, and dried mushrooms in the window. The synagogues here are very unlike the Hasidic shtibels or the Orthodox shuls found just on the other side of New Lots Avenue. They are small and neat, adorned with stained glass windows and displaying signs in black and gold that blend the ancient Hebrew congregational nomenclature with the names of minor Balkan and Turkish towns: Peace and Brotherhood of Monastir, Hessed V’Emet of Castoria, and Keter Zion, Ankoralese.
The men congregate nightly in the coffeehouses, but women are never seen there. Their place is in the home, where they wash and cook endlessly, preparing meals according to Turkish, Greek, Syrian, and Spanish recipes: skewered lamb and rice, chopped meat wrapped in pickled grape leaves, and dishes redolent of Oriental spices, almond, kesablanca and keshkeval cheese. When they are not busy cooking, they bustle about their porches in cotton dresses, golden Stars of David gleaming on their bosoms.
The Magen David, worn by men and women alike, has a very special meaning for the Sephardi—it signifies his separateness not only from the world of the Gentiles but from the world of other Jews as well. For the Sephardim do not call themselves “Jews” and the word “Jewish” is never used in Spanish New Lots except in derision; their own centers, clubs, and organizations are always clearly labeled “Sephardic.” The term “Jew” is reserved for the Ashkenazim who are also called “Yudaks” or “Zug-zugs,” the latter being, moreover, a mocking term for Yiddish, a language the Spanish Jews consider a vulgar jargon, as their own Ladino—an archaic Spanish interspersed with Turkish, Greek, and Latin words—is not.
The difference between Ashkenazic and Sephardic ways can be seen most clearly in the elaborate ritual gatherings of New Lots, especially during funerals and the ob servance of death anniversaries, which are the heart of Sephardic religious observance. When a Sephardi passes away, he is attended in death not only by his family but by all the members of his fraternal society. In accordance with strict Sephardic tradition, twenty-five of the deceased man’s fraternal brothers, along with the Chevrah Kadishah (burial society), wash and clothe the body in shroud and prayer shawl. Then a funeral procession led by a goatee’d rabbi winds its way through the streets amid the throngs, reciting psalms and intoning prayers. When the procession passes the synagogues, the doors are opened to display the Holy Ark. In the cemetery after the interment, the coffin coverings are spread upon the ground and decked out by the men with keshkeval cheese, rolls, and eggs (baked hard and brown) which the vast assembly eats for the remainder of the afternoon against a background of wailing and psalm reciting. Then, during the entire week of mourning, each member of the congregation pays his respects to the family.
Unveiling and yahrtzeit ceremonies present another contrast to Ashkenazic ritual. The unveiling—which among Ash-kenazim is a brief affair—involves for Sephardim a day-long ceremony at the cemetery, where professional caterers take care of the refreshments. Yahrtzeit observance, called meldare, is held at the home of the immediate family, and is also more elaborate than among other Jews. Ashkenazim simply light a yahrtzeit glass and recite the memorial prayer, Kaddish, with a minyan, but the Sephardim spend the whole day of the death anniversary chanting psalms and prayers and serving refreshments, while their rabbis deliver eulogies of the dead and lead discussions of Sephardic traditions. On the other hand, the Sephardim attach much less importance to the collective memorial service (called Annos), which they hold on the eve of Yom Kippur, than the Ashkenazim do to their yizkor ceremony.
The differences between the Sephardim and their Ashkenazic neighbors are not confined to ritual observances. Indeed they are so far-reaching and profound that “intermarriages” are opposed by both sides, and very often do not work out in practice. This is not entirely the fault of the Sephardic community. Most Ashkenazim, especially those unschooled in Jewish history, consider the Sephardim little different from Gentiles. Their swarthy skin, “strange” language, “funny pronunciation of loshen kodesh,” and “peculiar” social and religious customs all seem un-Jewish. Even their family names—Alcalay, Toledano, Razon—which the Sephardim have kept jealously for centuries, make them suspect in Ashkenazic eyes.
The attitude of the Sephardim is more complicated. On the one hand, they regard themselves as aristocrats, the descendants of the ancient Israelite nobility and the inheritors of the glories of Jewish civilization in Spain. They look down upon the Ashkenazim as a “mixed multitude” of Jews who are descended from the rabble of Jerusalem and whose blood has an admixture of a Slavic element—as evidence they cite the “un-Semitic” blond hair and high cheek bones of many Ashkenazim. And in their turn they are no less suspicious of Ashkenazic food, religious customs, Yiddish, and the Ashkenazic pronunciation of Hebrew.
On the other hand, the Sephardim are acutely aware that there has been a falling-off of their life from the cultural level reached by medieval Spanish Jewry, and they attribute this to the decline that set in among the Spanish Jews after their expulsion in 1492. The Sephardim know that they are poorer in Jewish learning than their Ashkenazic cousins—that, in fact, it is the Ashkenazim who keep alive the heritage of Maimonides, Judah Halevi, and other great lights of medieval Spanish Jewry, and that it is Ashkenazic drive and initiative which mold Jewish life in America. Perhaps this knowledge accounts for their tendency to cut themselves off from the present, to live in a little self-contained world where they need not compete with the more energetic Ashkenazim—where they can sink back comfortably into the proud, suspicious, lethargic life of a small Levantine community mainly concerned with its own internal affairs, feuds, and family politics.
Israel Zangwill’s classic portrayal of the Sephardi in 19th-century London, King of Schnorrers, shows that in some respects the American Sephardim are not unlike their kind in other parts of the world. American Sephardim are neither so poor nor so arrogant as Zangwill’s Schnorrer, but they are equally vulnerable. And to understand them one must know their history.
The word Sephardi is derived from Sepharad, the ancient Hebrew name for the Iberian Peninsula. Rabbi Hai Gaon, the head of a 10th-century Talmudical academy in Babylon, and Moses ibn Ezra, a 12th-century Spanish Jewish poet, both claimed that the first Jewish settlement in Spain was made up of members of the royal families of Judea, who fled there when the First Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Julius Caesar also mentioned the Jews of Iberia in his writings. By the 7th century C.E., after the destruction of the great Talmudic schools of Syria and Babylonia, Spain had become the center of Jewish cultural achievement. For the next seven hundred years it witnessed an era of Jewish scholarship far brighter and greater than any that followed it, thanks largely to the tolerance of the Moors who had conquered most of Spain. Even in those parts of Northern Spain where the Christians ruled, Jews were treated more tolerantly than in the rest of medieval Europe. Along with Christians and Moslems, Jews taught in the leading universities, managed royal treasuries, were among the leading physicians, merchants, and diplomats.
The Moors, heirs to ancient Greek science and philosophy, provided a particularly stimulating environment for Jewish scholars. A new kind of rabbi developed, who was at once astronomer, physician, philosopher, and financial wizard. In addition, these men wrote Hebrew grammars, commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud, and Hebrew poetry.
This prosperity was not shared by Jews in other parts of Europe whose position became more and more difficult with the advent of the First Crusade in 1096. Jews were driven from France, England, and Italy into miserable ghettos of the Germanic kingdoms and pressed eastward to Poland where they became targets for the Teutonic knights and bloodthirsty fanatics who had joined in the Crusades. It was in these early ghettos that the Yiddish language was born and there too the name Ashkenazim (from the Hebrew designation for Germany) originated.
The earlier Crusades had little effect on the Jews of Christian Spain. They continued to prosper and many of them even married into the Christian nobility. However, as the Christian kings began to drive out the Moslems during the 12th and 13th centuries, the situation of the Jews steadily worsened. Ironically enough, it was the Moors, made desperate by repeated defeat at the hands of the Christians and pushed at last into a small corner of Granada, who were the first to oppress the Jews. The great Maimonides was among the many forced to flee Granada in the 13th century. By the 14th century—a time of increased power for the Church and of outbreaks of the Black Plague—the Christians of Spain were also actively persecuting Jews, killing or selling into slavery those who would not submit to baptism. Finally, in 1492, came the edict of Ferdinand and Isabella expelling all Jews from Spain.
For the most part the exiles went to Portugal, North Africa, and Italy. But a great many others went to Moslem Turkey and its Balkan possessions. The Ottoman Turks had been devastating the Byzantine Empire, laying waste much of the Balkans, the vast regions of Macedonia, Thrace, the Gallipoli peninsula, Andrianopolis, Constantinople, and Rodasto, and they welcomed the Jewish refugees from Iberia as settlers who could repopulate these ransacked areas. The skills and accomplishments of the Jews were sorely needed by the backward Turks, who gave them considerable power and freedom, which they repaid by establishing vast new commercial centers in the Aegean—the principal one being Salonica. This port city in time overtook Venice, Genoa, and Spain itself in the competition for the Mediterranean trade.
In his daily life, the 15th-and early 16th-century Sephardic Jew of the Ottoman Empire was hardly distinguishable from his Turkish upper-class neighbor or from the nobility. Except for minor details (for example, no Jewish business could operate in the immediate vicinity of a mosque), Jews had equal rights and participated freely in the social life of the Empire. In turn, they considered Islam a sister religion rather than an enemy. Jewish communal leaders were invited to Friday evening services in the mosques and Dervish houses, and they found no religious reason for not attending.
Sephardic success in the Balkans was, however, of short duration. Soon after the close of the 16th century, the entire structure of Ottoman Jewry collapsed, and in time the Jews sank to the ranks of the ignorant laboring classes of the Turkish Empire. There seems to have been no shattering blow—neither natural catastrophe nor war nor a sudden wave of persecution—that leveled the religious and moral traditions of the Ottoman Jews to that degree of ignorance and superstition to which they ultimately sank. In part, the cause was the succession of Christian Venice to Mohammedan Salonica as the major trading center for the Orient. Then, too, the increase of English, French, and Dutch commerce which began to flood the Mediterranean market with cheap, factory-made textiles, ruined untold numbers of Jewish artisans. At the same time the missionary schools established by various Western countries in the Balkans brought Western skills and sciences to Greeks and Armenians, who were soon entering the fields of jurisprudence and medicine, once largely the domain of Jews. Only in Salonica, where the Jews were a vast majority, did they retain their predominance.
While the material prosperity of Sephardic Jewry in the Balkans was undermined by Western industrial competition and their social status endangered by the rise of an Armenian and Greek intelligentsia, their communal and religious life was disrupted by the after-effects of Sabbatai Zevi’s Messianic movement. By the time Sabbatai Zevi died a forced convert to Islam in 1676, all of Jewry had been split into his followers and opponents. The Ashkenazic community turned, occasional backslidings notwithstanding, from the obscurities of the Cabbala and the emotional fervor of Messianism back to the rationality of Talmudic study. But the Sephardim, lacking the recuperative powers of their Ashkenazic cousins, sank over the centuries from Cabbalistic obscurantism into superstition. In the end they had little to sustain them but their ancestral pride and their inbred family life.
When, around the turn of the 19th century, Turkey lost its empire and the newly formed nations that emerged as a result began persecuting their minorities, many Sephardic Jews decided to emigrate. The upper classes mostly went to Western Europe, and the poorer laborers who could not pay for their own passage were brought to the United States under the auspices of shipping agencies and philanthropic organizations like HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). The first Sephardic community in New York was established on the Lower East Side—along Grand, Rivington, and Allen Streets—next to the larger area already settled by Jewish immigrants from East Europe. After the end of World War I a flood of immigrants from Turkey and the Balkans swelled the ranks of this community, which then overflowed into other neighborhoods.
A number of Sephardic Jews from Salonica, consisting primarily of the wealthier class and some of the more skilled of the laboring class, settled in the Bronx along the upper reaches of the Grand Concourse in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium. A small group of Castoralis Jews, led by their rabbi, Robert Ouziel, moved to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, close to the Syrian Sephardic community. Still another small band of Castoralis and some Monastirlis settled along Neptune Avenue in the Coney Island district. But the largest new community to be founded was in the New Lots section of East New York. Here some two thousand families from all parts of the Balkans and Turkey established themselves among the truck farms and goat farms that still existed on the outskirts of the teeming Jewish neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York.
The first Sephardic immigrants were for the most part male. Some were already married and hoped to earn enough money to send for their families quickly. The women came between 1900 and 1920, either to join their husbands or to marry “townsmen” in America to whom they had been betrothed by parents or relatives at home. There were also some orphans and girls from destitute families whom friends and relatives brought over and provided for.
Generally the women, too, were of lower-class origin and illiterate, and they accepted without question the code of the Levantine society which their men had perpetuated in New Lots. Indeed their own role was an outstanding feature of that code, shutting them off as it did from the world outside their own homes. For them, there was only the family: an arranged marriage in which love was not necessarily part of the bargain; the house, children, and female relatives. To this day Sephardic women have little Voice in family affairs and none at all in community affairs, and even the youngest male has more to say than his mother. A young woman who marries the eldest son of a particular household will live with her in-laws, because the first-born son is traditionally expected to stay with his parents even after his marriage and to take care of them when they are too old to work. It is not at all uncommon to find two or more generations of a Sephardic family living under one roof. In such cases the house, and particularly the kitchen, is run by the mother-in-law, or, if she is vigorous enough, by the grandmother.
In addition to her husband and mother-in-law, the Sephardic woman must also contend with the supreme authority of the oldest brother whose advice, regardless of his economic status, is always solicited in family matters and whose decision can be contested only by an appeal to the local rabbi. When such mediation is sought, the rabbi usually settles the case in the brother’s favor.
The greatest change for Sephardic women in America was the removal of the restriction against their having jobs. In the old Ottoman world, it was considered shameful for girls to work outside the home, and only extreme circumstances could drive them into the Smyrna tobacco factories, the mills of Salonica, or even into, service as housemaids and children’s nurses. In the New World, however, the men demanded that their women seek employment in the garment district. Even when their earnings were not strictly needed to make ends meet, daughters were urged to find jobs at a very early age and contribute at least half of their incomes to the household. This practice made it impossible for the great majority of the first generation of Sephardic girls born in America to obtain more than an elementary school education.
The men, having been unskilled laborers in their countries of origin, also sought employment in the garment trade. Guided by Jewish institutions and aided by their Ashkenazic fellow workers, they became operators, pressers, and cutters. In time a number of them worked their way up into manufacturing and wholesaling, particularly in the ladies’ skirt, sportswear, and underwear lines. But neither Sephardic bosses nor workers ever joined the trade associations and the unions which had been founded in the garment industry during the first two decades of the century, preferring to solve their labor problems within their own fraternal societies and clubs. These organizations, which bear names like Peace and Brotherhood of Monastir, not only furnished the Sephardim with machinery for settling labor disputes, but provided—and continue to provide—the framework of Sephardic social life.
As their names indicate, the clubs are organized along geographical lines, each one restricted to people from a particular town or province in the old country; most members are related by blood or marriage as well, which makes the association even more powerful. The clubs have in effect established on American soil an exact replica of the 19th-century Levantine society now crumbling to pieces on its home grounds. The physical centers of this society are the coffeehouses where the members assemble nightly for companionship, for gossip, for endless caucusing on family, clan, and community affairs, for games of pinochle, gin rummy, and backgammon, and for the smoking of water pipes. Here marriages and funerals are arranged, business deals are closed, reputations are made and ruined, fine points of ritual are settled.
This world of the coffeehouse is a man’s world, and one which, by the usual Sephardic standards, is remarkably relaxed. If, at home, the Sephardi is very much the severe pater·familias, and in his contacts with the outside world the aloof Spanish hidalgo, he is, in the male world of the coffeehouse, definitely one of the “boys.” This sense of belonging which the male Sephardi feels from the time he is old enough to see the inside of a coffeehouse to the day he is too old to attend, may be what lies behind the enduring cohesiveness of Sephardic society.
But the price the Sephardi has paid for the emotional security of belonging to a small, tightly knit group has been his isolation from the world at large. The divisiveness characteristic of Levantine society not only has kept the Sephardi cut off from his non-Jewish neighbor and from his Ashkenazic brother, but has also resulted in the setting up of barriers within the Sephardic community itself. Each fraternal society, each family clan is a law unto itself, jealous of its independence, determined not to yield an inch to anyone on the smallest point of ritual or of etiquette. Until quite recently Sephardim from Turkey would not eat, much less worship, with Sephardim from Yugoslavia, nor would they permit their children to intermarry. The result was a complete inability to cope with any situation, such as the need to establish schools, that required resources larger than those available to any one club.
An attempt to remedy this situation was undertaken in 1936 by Dr. Isaac Alcalay upon his arrival in the United States from Yugoslavia. This Rabbinic scholar had been a Yugoslav senator and a confidant of the late King Alexander and is deeply loved and honored by the Sephardic communities. He inspired a desire in the local leaders to unify and elevate the cultural level of the community, and the result was the creation of the Central Sephardic Community of the United States and Canada. However, this organization never managed to accomplish much more than a membership list.
Even after the Sephardim had been in America for a full generation their isolation from American culture in general persisted, mainly because the Sephardic community lacked the two elements which among other immigrant groups facilitated integration into American life. There were no Sephardi intellectuals to serve as mediators between their own people and the culture of the new land, and there was no rebellious youth ready to question the inbred ways of the older generation. The second generation, like the first, was content to stay close to the coffeehouses and work in the shops of the garment center. Those few who left the familiar groove entered professions like the law where they could utilize family connections.
This acquiescence in the status quo, this penchant for staying close to home—itself a carry-over from Sephardic isolationism-served further to isolate the Sephardim from Jewish life in America. The Ashkenazic community, physically contained though it was during the first few decades of this century in the ghettos of the Lower East Side and of the Bronx and Brooklyn, was nevertheless steadily expanding its horizons. Its workers were organizing the needle trades unions, its young men and women were entering the professions, its intellectuals and artists creating a culture of their own and helping to give tone and color to the work of a whole generation of younger writers and artists. Across all difference in ideology, customs, and dialect the Ashkenazic Jews were drawn together into a unified body by their common aspiration to improve themselves socially and economically, to become a part of America. The Sephardim, on the other hand, were unable to transcend the mores of the old world, and as a result they remained divided into a multiplicity of small communities, each with its own narrow religious prejudices, individual culinary tastes, and linguistic idiosyncrasy.
However, since World War II, New Lots has witnessed a quiet social revolution which is gradually easing the Sephardic community out of its isolation. There is a growing sense of inadequacy within the community, a gathering doubt about the Tightness of their old ways. The second generation of American-born Sephardim is growing up and the pervading influencing of school, the newspapers, the movies, and television, along with the contacts they make in their jobs, have slowly been subverting some of the more outlandish taboos of their elders. Today Castoralis freely marry Monastirlis, Angoralis, and Salonicalis, bringing clans and clubs closer together. Moreover, the older generation itself is growing indulgent. As in postwar America at large, small Sephardic contractors have become large manufacturers, workers are making more money than ever before, and this prosperity has given the Sephardim a greater feeling of security than they have had for centuries. They now have a larger stake in American life, and they take a correspondingly larger interest in it. But the spearhead of the change has been two elements of the younger generation: the new suburbanites and the army veterans (who often are the same people).
For several years now a perceptible exodus from New Lots has been going on, mainly to the better neighborhoods of East Flat bush and the more exclusive areas of Long Island, and the chief result for the Sephardic community is that young Sephardim have become familiar with the new suburban Jewish centers. Even where they have not actually joined the center, they have sent their children to its religious school. They cannot help thinking that in the New Lots of their childhood there was no Hebrew school and that to this day most of their synagogues are open only on the High Holidays. And they cannot help comparing the modern seminary-trained Ashkenazic rabbis with the lay sexton-rabbis of New Lots who also double as secretaries of the burial societies, as mohelim for circumcisions, and as marriage brokers (except for several notable exceptions, there are no formally trained Sephardic rabbis throughout the country). A vague sense of inadequacy has made itself felt among these young Sephardim and through them to the community in general, an understanding that the small societies which dominated the Sephardic world were too poor and too caught up in their internal bickerings to furnish the basis for the kind of communal life demanded by the 20th century. What was needed, clearly, was an over-all Sephardic organization larger than the coffee shop and the local fraternal society, but all previous attempts to found such a federation had fallen victim to the apathy and indifference of the older generation and the determined opposition of the lay rabbis.
It took the push of the war veterans, who had been forced out of the narrow confines of the New Lots coffeehouses, to build, finally, a congregation embracing members of more than one fraternal society. In 1953 a group of some two hundred young Sephardim of American birth chartered a Conservative congregation under the name of Congregation Tifereth Bachurim, or the United Sephardim of Brooklyn. They leased a synagogue in New Lots from an Orthodox Sephardic congregation who worship there only irregularly. Since there was no qualified Sephardic rabbi to take over the new pulpit, the congregation invited an Ashkenazi. The first man to accept the position rather quickly moved on to a chaplaincy in the army, but the second rabbi—Arnold B. Marans, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary—stayed on.
Within a few short years, Rabbi Marans evolved a program for the congregation involving regular services (held in the authentic Sephardic style perpetuated by congregations like the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York), and a modern Hebrew school. With considerable help from the increasing number of Ashkenazic wives, he is trying to get the congregation to understand his “Yudak” ideals of Jewish social welfare, to give them a deeper sense of belonging to the American Jewish community, and to get them to act on the social and cultural problems it faces. This is not an easy process, for though the community likes and respects Rabbi Marans personally, the older people have not yet entirely accepted him as one of their own. And even the younger people, for all their willingness to Americanize their community life, still operate very much in an “old country” spirit.
Nowhere can this curious combination of American forms and Levantine spirit be seen more clearly than in the secular operations of the United Sephardim of Brooklyn. Its constitution and by-laws are straight out of Robert’s rules of parliamentary procedure, but in practice these rules are often more honored in the breach than in the observance. If, for example, a difference of opinion threatens, the chairman, rather than let things come to a vote that would result in a loss of face for the defeated party, takes things into his own hands, in due time confronts the members with a fait accompli, and is reimbursed for any expenses he may have incurred. In the synagogue, the president takes care of things in a similar manner. “It’s a wonderful system, really,” Rabbi Marans said the other day, smiling. “When I find myself short of funds for the synagogue or the school, all I have to do is call the president at his office in the morning, and that very afternoon the money is ready for us.”
A late Friday evening service of the new congregation forcefully brings home the changes that have overtaken Sephardic New Lots. The sanctuary, conforming to the architecture of the building itself, has a triangular shape. One enters through a small ante-room at the apex, which contains a fount of oil surrounded by flaming wicks in commemoration of the meldares of deceased members. Above the fount a huge bronze plaque, reaching to the ceiling, bears the inscription “Congregation of Peace and Brotherhood of Monastir, Inc.” and underneath, “The Havra Kedusha Shel Rohesim of Ahavath Shalom of Monastir.” Below the names and titles of the older generation and its burial society appear the names of officers and founders of the new congregation itself. On the adjacent wall hangs a large colored portrait of the late Solomon Pardo, who during his lifetime was one of the most respected leaders of the community.
Long rows of seats, fanning out from the point of entrance to the platform, curve at the broad base and are filled to capacity, with men and women seated together. The service features Spanish hymns and music of Turkish origin, freely adapted from the songs of the Mahlavaneh or Dervish houses where the high-ranking Jewish officials of the old Sultans went on Friday nights to pay their respects to Moslem colleagues.
The congregation is young, made up of men and women in their twenties, thirties, and forties. They might easily be taken for ordinary middle-class Americans as they sit there in their well-cut clothes, prosperous and at peace. And yet there is still something exotic about them, with their swarthy complexions, their aquiline noses, their large smoldering eyes. It is still too early to say whether they will remain a distinct community of their own, but they seem to have a feeling of pride in being Sephardim that constantly drives them from the quiet streets of their suburban homes back to New Lots, and chances are that they will continue to resist assimilation into the Ashkenazic community.