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September 30, 2012 3:49 am

34 Signs of Being a Sephardi/Mizrahi Jew

avatar by Daniel Levy

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A shakshuka breakfast.

I just love being Sephardi (my family is originally Turkish). In fact, I find it to be one of the simple pleasures in life! Below are some comic observations on being a Sephardi, or Mizrahi Jew. Funny thing is most of it’s true for me!

1. You refer to Arabs, Kurds and Turks as “cousins”

2. You like the sound of spoken Arabic

3. Your synagogue’s chazzan sounds like he’s chanting in Arabic most of the time. And you love it!

4. If you don’t hate Arabs your relatives are not only unable to understand why, but will quite possibly see you as a traitor and want to disown you

5. When you announce to your family that you’re learning Arabic, you get knowing nods and comments such as “Sensible; know your enemy”

6. In your family supporting the two-state solution is tantamount to betraying Israel

7. You have a natural sense of rhythm when dancing to Middle Eastern music

8. Your iPod has all the standard Arabic pop anthems (Amarain, Habini El Nour El Ain and Ya Tabtab) on one playlist

9. You lip sync to them in your room, hoping your family doesn’t find out

10. You see denying the supremacy of Mizrahi music as cultural heresy and a sure sign of being a musical philistine

11. At least one person in your family plays the darbuka

12. You listen to trance remixes of selichot from the Yamim Noraim on a regular basis (think Meydad Tasa and Itzik Kalla)

13. You have said trance remixes of selichot from the Yamim Noraim on your phone

14. You wonder why you get strange looks when people on the bus hear your ring-tone. They obviously don’t appreciate Moshe Giat and Zohar Argov…

15. You don’t clap normally (usually it’s slightly offbeat with hands held high overhead)

16. You can do that weird finger-click (don’t even ask for an explanation – you either know what I’m talking about or not)

17. When you go to a family simcha most of the guests over fifty have a foreign accent

18. At weddings and engagement parties you join in with Mabruk Alek

19. At such smachot you’ll find elderly Persians/Afghanis/Iraqis/Kurds/Moroccans/Egyptians or Syrians doing traditional dances surrounded by admiring teenagers filming it on their iPhones

20. You call a really good party a “hafla”

21. Whenever you get invited to a party the first thing you ask is “Who’s bringing the arak?”

22. You’re disappointed when there isn’t any

23. You get overly excited when someone pulls out a shisha pipe at a party. If you’re really drunk you also start singing “nagila hallelujah”

24. At least one close family member or friend is, or has been a devout Kahanist at some point in their life

25. You have a strong dislike of visibly fake tan

26. You laugh at people who can’t take spicy food

27. You know how hard it is to make a decent Jahnun, having tried and failed to do so

28. You feel guilty calling chamin “cholent”

29. You like eggs in your chamin

30. You make shakshuka on a regular basis

31. You’ll only use shop-bought harissa or schug in a real emergency

32. No-matter how much you want to visit your grandparents’ birthplace you know that if you do being, butchered by anti-Semitic locals is more than a slight possibility

33. You find Yiddish-accented Hebrew unintelligible

34. You kiss on both cheeks

35. “Marrying out” to an Ashkenazi is unthinkable, but someone in your family has still done it.

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  • Miriam Caro

    Yep. That’s all me. But you forgot one thing: Ululating with joy during weddings and bar-mitzvot!!!!!!!

  • Meir Fox

    Lol, man… all of these are so true about me naturally on a day to day basis. My mom is born in England and my Dads side from southern germany, but we dont look traditionally white. I mean we are all more closely with the mediterranean in our ethnicity.

  • Laurie Kurs

    DACON9 – I realize you posted several months back…but, I just saw it and had to reply….Judgmental self-righteous people – such as yourself – have been responsible for killings, inquisitions, holocausts, discrimination and the like…You need not be nasty when you mention things with which you disagree. It makes you sound foolish, pompish and snobbish. Grow up…the world is NOT proscribed bu you!

  • Asi Furler

    You say your originally from turkey and say how much you like arab stuff right?
    It does not make sence to me because turkish is not arab. Its a completly different tradition

  • WELL I made a few typos because I write as I think and dont proof read. So,for you critical bleeding heart liberals this is my disclaimer
    Its in the content not the grammer that you have to understand…..

    I am going to Ave J now to buy a looliv and etros..?
    Is that how you say it?
    I’m gonna buy a lulaav and etrog….
    I wonder if I can reach down from my camel to pay for it.

    • Rachel Radna

      Dear Daniel,
      Could I please have the recipe for the Shakshukah that you have a photo of. It looks amazing!
      Thanks and Chag Sameach,
      PS my maiden name is Levy wonder if we are related 🙂
      distant relatives? perhaps? my father was born in Adelia now anthalya

    when I see many sephardi wearing the uropean black hat manner of dress I have the urge to rent a camel and staff and white robes like our fore father ABRAHAM WORE AND GO TO SHUL,sorry I MEANT KENIESS(BET KENESET).

    #33 always bother me..Moshe Rabbeinu had an egyptian accent. Abraham had an iraqi accent Maimonides had a spaniard accent and I have a brooklyn accent.

    #35 is highly improper today.
    not a deformed or conservadope female lesbian guitar playing homosexual pink haired liberal tolerant to the enemy so called jew that has a choir singing church sounding songs with gospel groups on YOM KIPPOR in the middle wear the bima should be but was moved over so the woman in the front row where the rabbis should be sitting are now sitting and can see the prreacher from the local church give THE JEWS(?) a teshuvah sermon.

    • Chanoch

      Calm down your Syrian nerves. You are not about to be subverted by lesbians, reform or conservative jews, or gospel groups. It is only the bogeyman in your head upsetting you.

    • Rocky Ray Antoky

      kewl..SY JEW here too!