Magen David Yeshivah High School (MDYHS) initiated its new 10th grade Sephardic Heritage program with a special assembly on December 2nd. The entire student body and staff of MDYHS gathered to view the documentary film on Sephardic Heritage produced by Mr. Joseph Sitt and the Sephardic Heritage Museum. The memorable event was organized by Rabbi Joey Haber, in coordination with the MDYHS staff and The Sephardic Heritage Museum.
The students were captivated as they learned their own history from community leaders and from the interviews captured on film. Mr. Sitt explained his goals in establishing The Sephardic Heritage Museum, and inspired the students with his commitment to preserving our past, emphasizing the pride that each and every one of us must feel as members of the world-renowned Sephardic community.
To supplement the film, the school invited a panel of distinguished guests to answer students’ questions. The panel consisted of five prestigious community figures:
Mr. Steven Ashear: The great-grandson of Hazan Hayim Ashear a.h., who composed many of the well-knownpizmonim sung today.
Mr. Fred Bijou: One of the original founders of Sephardic Bikur Holim and a member of the third graduating class of Magen David Yeshivah.
Mr. Harry Catton: Son of Mr. Sam Catton a.h., who was responsible for the publication of many of our community’s prayer and pizmonim books.
Mr. Joe Faham: Whose family was responsible for bringing the Keter Aram Soba, or Aleppo Codex, out of Syria.
Mr. Ralph Shamah: Son of Hacham David Shamah a.h. and a World War II veteran. Mr. Shamah attended the first classes in the Magen David Talmud Torah on 67th street back in 1932.
The panel shared stories about life in Besonhurst, the publication of sidurim, the important role hesed plays in the community, and the remarkable story of the escape from Syria with the Aleppo Codex.
In the yearlong 10th grade Sephardic Heritage program, students are assigned to one of 26 groups that will study various elements of the community and create exhibits on themes such as life in Aleppo, immigration from the Middle East, the Syrian rabbinate, culinary items, hazanut, and Syrian Jews in World War II. The program was designed by the staff of MDYHS, led by Audrey Nasar, along with Rabbi Elinatan Bitton, Rabbi David Elnadav and Sally Mishanieh, under the guidance of Mrs. Sabrina Maleh, out of a desire and commitment to preserve Sephardic history.