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It wasn’t a union that my grandparents could have even imagined when they were living in Cairo.But they accepted it, cognizant of the decision they made to raise their daughters as secular Americans.
And in addition to all this, once a conclusion is reached, one has to have a special merit to be spared from the critics, those whose expertise is to condemn, because they were trained to criticize arguments, and not to build them In the end, his decision wasn’t as important as his approach to the question.
Unfortunately, as with most things in life, with great joy came great sadness.
It became painfully obvious that most of Sephardic Jewry as a whole has followed one of two paths.
I was told that Jewish food is matzah balls and gefilte fish. I was hitting a brick wall with my ability to progress, because the more I learned about Judaism, the less I felt I had a legitimate Jewish heritage, and I needed to feel that connection.
When I asked when we were going to have molokheya, bishamel, or mahshi, no one knew what I meant. Thankfully, I knocked on the right doors and with the help of Judeo-Arabic teachers, I slowly put the pieces together.
I was told from a very young age that I was Jewish, but that was all the information I received from my family.
Like many others raised in a non-religious household, by the time I was an adult, the only associations I had with Judaism were my grandparent’s food and language: Molokheya and Judeo-Arabic. I was born in Los Angeles to my Egyptian mother and my Mexican father.From Wisconsin they saved everything they could to get someplace warmer and where they could re-invent themselves.So they ended up in Los Angeles, spoke nothing but French outside the house, and put a Christmas tree in the window.When the former chief rabbi of Egypt, Rabbi Aharon ben Shim’on was asked whether someone could use matches on Yom Tov, he could have said no and left it at that.But instead, he wrote an introduction that sums up the Sephardic mentality: Human knowledge has increased through the investigation and the new discoveries of the principles of Creation, and with it, man’s industrial and technical capabilities.The first time I entered a synagogue was many years after the passing of my grandparents.