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The term “Sephardic” is derived from the Hebrew word for Spain, “Sepherad.” It originally referred to the Jews who were expelled from Spain by order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492. Today the term refers to the descendants of these exiles, who settled in countries along the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa, the Balkans, Italy, Syria and Palestine. Others from among the Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) Jews made their way to Brazil, Holland, and the Jewish communities of the New World, including New Amsterdam (now New York), Mexico, and the Caribbean island of Curacao.

Magen David Sephardic Congregation (MDSC) was formed by people whose families emigrated to America from such countries as Morocco, Egypt, and Syria. As time passed, the congregation added members from a wider geographical base, including many who were drawn to the beauty of the community's Torah scrolls as well as the readers' decidedly oriental ta'amim

As is the custom in many other Sephardic synagogues, we house our scrolls in Torah cases of carved wood with applications and etchings of gold and silver. Scrolls are crowned with rimonim, many of them crafted of sterling silver and embellished with tiny bells. In contrast, Ashkenazi Jews install their scrolls on Torah rollers called atzie chaim, and cover them with velvet mantles.  At MDSC, as at other synagogues that follow the Sephardic customs of Morocco, the Levant and the areas of the Mediterranean, the Torah case is carried from its place in the hechal and placed on its base. The scroll is read in its vertical position.  

Magen David maintains its devotion to Sephardic customs, but the congregation is a delightful mix of people from at least 18 countries, and includes many members from Ashkenazi backgrounds. It is a dynamic environment in which we come together to enjoy Judaism and the Jewish way of life. We welcome diversity, and consider it one of our most important strengths. All are welcome to learn with us and to pray with us. We also hope you will engage with us in our mission to aid persons in need, both in our congregation and in the Jewish community at large.

If you are not yet on the distribution list for MDSC announcements, we encourage you to send an email with your name and email address to office@magendavidsephardic.org. Email addresses will be used for sending MDSC announcements only, and will not be disclosed to anyone outside the office.


Sephardim are proud to claim Maimonides, the great Medieval philosopher. He was born in Cordova, Spain in 1138, near the end of Iberia’s Golden Age of Jewish Culture. His family was forced to flee from the Muslim city in 1148, and they settled in Fez, Morocco. There he wrote the Mishneh Torah, with which he established himself as the preeminent codifier of Jewish law. Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, made his way to Egypt, where he became both the leader of Egypt's Jewish community and the personal physician to Sultan Saladin. He died in 1207. His modest grave in Tiberius, Israel, is visited not only by Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, but by others who revere him for his wisdom, his influence, and his extensive writings on Jewish law and ethics.

Sun, November 17 2019 19 Cheshvan 5780