My grandma Zilpa was a Sephardic Sage, a khakhama. The matriarch of her family, she passed down to her daughters and sons traditions and Torah, language, and wisdom. Her means of transmission were mostly stories, food, and blessings. I was young when she died, and all I remember are many lazy Friday afternoons eating her Kubeh, playing on her front balcony in the Katamonim neighborhood of Jerusalem, and her smock dress filled with almonds and bazooka gum. One of grandma Zilpa’s strengths was holding the family together, through the hardships of living in the Maabara to dealing with the challenges of immigration and financial hardship. Through all of this, she remained calm, empathetic, and “there” for everyone. I think about her a lot right now, as I too go about the work of “holding my family together.”
Several decades have passed since then. I have immersed myself in the writings and traditions of other Sephardic Sages from all over the Arab and Muslim worlds. I love these sources because they represent the open and lenient nature of Sephardic communities. These texts provide tools for thinking about how to create community where all voices are heard, honored, and respected. One of my goals in my role as Chief Program Officer is to bring the depth, perspective, and beauty of these sages to our learning spaces, diversifying the voices we hold up and listen to.
Join me on this journey starting November 30th with Sephardic Sages Bringing Peace to the World….