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Jews of European descent used the term Sephardic to denote anyone who wasn’t like them: the non-Ashkenazi.
The category may have been helpful for religious Jews, who followed either Ashkenazi or Sephardi customs in prayers and Jewish law, but it had no relevance among the secular.
“Iraqis are like the Ashkenazim of the Sephardim,” she would add, explaining how her people were educated and modern, not like the others — implying how backwards other groups were.
I’m sure that somewhere out there, a Moroccan or Tunisian or Egyptian mother was making the very same boast.
While their religious rituals were new to me — I never saw people washing their hands and not speaking before making blessings on the challah — it was the conversation that shocked me.“Are you Sephardic? Everyone stopped talking.“I have some Sephardi friends,” another guest offered. They weren’t really inquiring about my origins — my dark skin was a dead giveaway.
It was published in 2002 and was favorably reviewed, but as far as I can tell it hasn’t received much attention since then.