The Struggles of Being a Sephardi in an Ashkenaz School


Going to a school where everyone is of the same culture can be tough. Being one of not too many Sephardim in the school, you could feel a bit out of place because you don’t identify with the school’s customs. They all daven the same, the accents are the same, the features are very similar, the culture’s the same, and the food is the same.

Even though I might be different from everyone else, I remain proud of my culture and who my parents raised me to be. And even as I embrace my different culture, it’s still very fascinating to look at others’ customs and learn from them, and even to integrate some of it at home, as well. I have to admit that my mother started making kugel pretty often.

So, I might pronounce something differently, cook different food, or daven differently, but I feel an enhancement towards my culture and it strengthens my values towards it. When Yom Hashoah comes around, I do feel a bit left out from the commemoration, due to the fact that my family is from the Middle Eastern region, but I still respect it and learn so much even though I don’t have family members who had first hand experiences in the Holocaust.

At Chagigahs, the dancing is very different from the Chagigahs back in my culture, and weddings and bar-mitzvahs are also very different, culture wise.

There are also certain terms such as “vort” or “geshmak” – I had no idea what they meant before I came to SKA.

Although I am a part of a different culture from everyone else, the girls in SKA are so respectful towards it and actually think the Sephardic customs are really interesting (especially the food). Even though we’re different within our cultures, our belief in the same one G-d is what unites us as a nation.