Ohr Yisrael represents the rich heritage
of Spain & Portugal, the Middle East and North Africa.
Our liturgy and customs reflect a blending of
Sephardic tradition, and our congregants hail
from many backgrounds.
Sepharad is the Hebrew name for the Iberian Peninsula. Sephardim are those Jews who are descended from medieval Spain and Portugal.
Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497), many Jews were scattered and settled in places from Morocco to Egypt in North Africa,
from Italy to Holland in Europe, in Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire, in the Middle East from Israel to Persia, and as far away as India.
Some of these communities had existing Jewish populations, though all followed customs similar to the Sephardim. The pan-Sephardic world consists of all people from these communities.
The Sephardic heritage has always represented a tolerant and joyous expression of the Jewish experience. Whatever our individual level of religious observance, we believe that above all we are one people, Am Yisrael.
There are no denominations in the Sephardic world, as Sephardic sages throughout the ages have been aware of keeping religious rulings in step with the modern world.
We have a strong connection to the land of Israel and are committed to taking action to do our part to support its growth through involvement, concerned giving, and special projects
Our Rabbinic guidance hails from the two oldest congregations in America.
We are proud to have Rabbi Marc D, Angel of Congregation Shearith Israel (founded 1654) in New York and Rabbi Albert E. Gabbai of Congregation Mikveh Israel (founded 1740) in Philadelphia as our rabbinic advisors
We are also grateful to Rabbi Daniel Bouskila of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Los Angeles, Rabbi Haim Ovadia of Congregation Kahal Joseph in Los Angeles, Rabbi Moshe Benzaquen of the West Coast Torah Center in Beverly Hills, and Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo of the David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem. Each of these Rabbis and congregations has played a vital role in our formation, and provide ongoing direction and support.
Ohr Yisrael is an affiliate of the American Sephardi Federation, the umbrella group for Sephardic culture in the US. We are also a member of the Union of Sephardic Congregations of America.