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October 01, 1976 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-10-01

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56 Friday, October 1, 1976


Small Sephardic Community Here Retains Traditions

Hidden' among the
80,000-member Detroit
Jewish community are
the 500 Jews of Spanish,
Portuguese and Arabic
descent — the Sephar-
Scattered throughout
northwest Detroit and its
northern suburbs much
like they were in Europe
and Asia following the
Spanish Inquisition of
1492, the Jews of Egypt,
Turkey, Greece, Mexico,
Iran, Iraq and Israel re-
tain the traditions of
their native lands.
Organized in 1936 as
the Sephardic Commun-
ity of Detroit, the
Sephardim can trace
their history on the North
American continent back
to the 17th Century, but
their arrival in Detroit
wasn't felt until the early
Detroit's first genera-
tion of Sephardic Jews was
comprised mainly of
laborers or blue-collar
workers. According to Irv-
ing M. Zeitlin in his thesis,
"The Sephardic -Commun-
ity of Greater Detroit,"
that generation "became
factory workers, peddlers,
push-cart owners and even
boot-blacks. .Eventually
some became small prop-
rietors while others left
Detroit for New York, hav-
ing heard of the large
Sephardic community
Arriving in Detroit
where its Jewish com-
munity spoke Yiddish
and came from East or
.,.Central' Europe, the
Sephardim often sought
others of the same na-
tionality whether or not
they too were Sephardim
because they spoke the
same language and
shared the same customs.
According to David
Chicorel, past president

of the community and a
son of the late founders of
the Sephardic community
in Detroit, Jacob and
Judith Chicorel, his pa-
rents were instrumental
in aiding the incoming
Chicorel recalls that his
parents took in the new-
comers and his father
helped them find jobs. A
lay cantor, the elder
Chicorel conducted ser-
vices for the community.
The Sephardic communi-
ty's first religious ser-
vices were held in the
Chicorel home in 1921.
Shirley Gormezano, an
Ashkenaiic Jew married
to a Sephardi and secret-
ary of the community, said
the tradition of taking in
newcomers continues to-
day. She said that, many
members of the commun-
ity are opening their
homes to the influx of Ira-
nian (Persian) Jews com-
ing into Detroit.
A significant tradition
that many of the Sephar-
dim retained as they ar-
rived in America was the
Ladin6 language. Ladino
is spoken as a second lan-
guage in the home, much
like Yiddish in an
Ashkenazic household.
According to Zeitlin,
Ladino is "Castillian
Spanish modified by the
introduction of Hebrew
words, by the use of
Spanish case endings in
Hebrew, and occasionally
by the addition of Hebrew
prefixes and suffixes to
Spanish words. To this
combination have been
added some Turkish and
Arabic words."
In addition to per-
petuating Ladino, many
of the women continue to
prepare native foods. For
example, Rebecca
Bizaoui of Egypt still
prepares stuffed grape
leaves and molochia, a

rich soup made with
herbs that is common to
the Mediterranean area.
On Rosh Hashana, she
explained, tradition calls
for eating something
green for,happiness in the
^,oming year, and rice, for
a clean future. Following
the Yom Kippur fast,
lemon soup is often found
with the traditional chic-
ken dinner.
Sarah Bahar Kosnick, a
native of Turkey, Pre-
pares burinuelos, a spe-
cial bread for Passover,
and pastelas, little meat
According to Mrs. Gor-
mezano, who had to learn a
new mode of cooking when
she married her husband,
the Sephardim use much
olive oil in their cooking,
while the Ashkenazim use
chicken fat. Salads play a
major role in the Sephar-
dic diet. On Passover,
where the Ashkenazic
Jews forbid the eating of
rice, the Sephardim in-
clude it among their Pas-
sover recipes.
On the holidays and for
Shabat, fish is the major
meal of the Sephardim.
On Rosh Hashana, Dr.
Sion Soleymani, presi-
dent of the community,
said that pomegranates
are eaten signifying that
the year should be as
sweet as the fruit and
that the Jews should be as
numerous as its seeds. On
Passover Iranian Jews
eat a special mixture of
nuts Called agil.
Another custom car-
ried over by the Sephar-
dim are their native
dances which they pre-
form at several annual
social functions. Among
these are the Mediterra-
nean Cabaret Night, the
annual fund-raising
event; and the United Is-
rael Bond dinner-dance,
which the- Sephardic

Community co-sponsors
with four other organiza-
tions. The community
also holds an annual pic-
nic in summer.
This year, with the in-
crease of Persians in the
community, the Sephar-
dim sponsored "A Night
in Persia." They also
sponsored a session on
Greek dancing.
The community is gov-
erned by an executive
board which meets
monthly at the Zionist Cul-
tural Center, home base
for the Sephardim since
they have no synagogue.
Although the Sephar-
dic community today is
mainly comprised of the
children of the first
Sephardim who settled in
Detroit, there are still
many newcomers, some
with unpleasant stories
about their native lands.
Mrs. Bizaoui, for exam-
ple, fled her native Egypt
when persecution against
the Jews was rife. Her
husband was jailed, but
she and her daughter
were allowed to leave.
They fled to Marseilles,
France, where they lived
with an aunt while they
waited for visas. An uncle
in Detroit took them in
eight years ago. Mean-
while, her husband was
,released from jail in ill
health and died several
months after arriving in
Sam Moss, a manufac-
turers representative
and part-time musician,
is a concentration camp
survivor from Salonika,
Greece. Rounded up with
many other Greek Jews
during the Nazi occupa-
tion, Moss finally ended
up in Dachau, where iron-
ically, a German officer
saved his life.
When the officer
learned that Moss could
play the accordion, he or-

tiered Moss to play at the
fence separating the men's
and women's barracks.At
the fence, Moss met his
wife, Eta, an Orthodox Jew
from Hungary, who often
requested special songs.
The two were ordered to
put together a show and
every Sunday they per-
formed for the German of-
ficers. When liberation
came, the couple married
and in 1949 came to the
Dr. Soleymani, of
Shiraz, Iran, had an
easier time coming to the
U.S. — he came to con-
tinue his education.
A general surgeon as-
sociated with several De-
troit area hospitals and
an active member of the
major Jewish organiza-
tions, Dr. Soleymani
came to the U.S. 18 years
ago where he fulfilled his
medical internship and
residency requirements
for becoming 'a surgeon.
He is one of 11 children
of an import-export mer-
chant and has a history of
Jewish communal in-
volvement in his native
Iran. He joined Rabbi Yit-
zchak Levi, who escaped
Nazi persecution, in
promoting Hebrew and
secular education for Ira-
nian Jews. Often, the two

went house to house seek-
ing funds for a school
which eventually became a
reality and was supported
by the Shiraz board of
Asked what the goals of
the Sephardic community
were, Dr. Soleymani said
that it would like to build
its own cultural center on
the grounds of the Jewish
Community Center.
Rabbi-Samuel Betsalel, a
native of Afghanistan
and spiritual leader f-
the community's Hi,
Holiday services, said tri,
main goal is to build a
(In New York, the
Sephardic Temple celeb-
rated its 13th anniver-
sary in May. Cong.
Shearith Israel in New
York, the Spanish and -
Portuguese synagogue, is
regarded as the oldest
Jewish Congregation in
the U.S.)
On the holidays, the
Sephardim use the
prayerbook edited by the
late Dr. David De Sola
Pool, rabbi of Cong.
Shearith Israel, author
and civic leader. Prayers
are recited in Hebrew and
Dr. Soleymani said the
community was interested
in conducting classes for
the public in Sephardic
Although the presence
of the Sephardic com-
munity is not as heavily
felt in the general Jewish
community as its
Ashkenazic counterpart,
the Sephardim manage to
retain their native tradi-
tions as well as their
Jewishness. 'When a
Sephardic synagogue is
built in Detroit, the con-
tributions of the Sephar-
dim will be given recogni-
tion equal to their non-
Sephardic brothers.


Israel's Navy: Staying Ahead of the Arab Threat

HAIFA — Israeli naval
planners fear that ex-
panded arms export
drives by the U. S. and
Europe in the Middle
East will vastly increase
sea power within the
Arab world and challenge
Israeli control of its sea
These planners, accord-
ing to Aviation Week and
Space Technology
magazine, are convinced
that Saudi Arabia will
ask for — and receive —

the McDonnell Douglas
Harpoon anti-shipping
missile to arm the 10
guided-missile patrol
boats that country is re-
ceiving from the U.S. One
boat has been delivered.
U.S. officials deny that a
Harpoon deal has been
made, but Israel is skep-
In addition, Italy, Rus-,
sia, FranCe and Great
Britain are highly visible
naval weapons salesmen
and are pushing control

One of the Israeli Navy's smaller patrol
craft is shown operating off the Israeli coast.

throughout the Middle
At this time, Libya is the
prime customer for Italian
and Soviet boats and mis-
siles. But Israeli
strategists view the com-
bined Arab naval inven-
tory as a single enemy
fleet whose navies conduct
joint training, and whose
vessels can be transferred
from one flag to another.
The growing threat
does not involve only
Arab countries. The
Soviet Mediterranean
squadron has found new
acceptance among the
Israeli intelligence re-
cently determined that
Russia has received
rights to the Syrian port
of Tartus. A repair ship is
based there permanently,
and three or four Soviet
destroyers are usually at
anchor in the port.
The Soviets have been
hampered in the Mediter-
ranean since Egypt
closed Alexandria to Rus-
sian shipping four years
ago. Tartus cannot re-
place Alexandria in size
or facilities, but its use
enables the Soviets to

make repairs close to the
squadron's operating
Israel is reacting t)
these potentially major
shifts in the Middle East
strategic balance by con-
stantly refining its naval
tactics, and by a gradual
increase in its combat
fleet. -
Israeli naval tactics are
tailored around the Israel
Aircraft Industries Gab-
riel missile on board
small, swift boats and
supported by advanced
surveillance, acquisition,
tracking and fire control
radars and electronic
Backbone of the combat
fleet is the 440-ton Reshef
(Flash) missile boat. Six
are in commission and
another six are under
construction at Israeli
Shipyards, Ltd., located
in Haifa. The remainder
of the armed operating
fleet consists of:
• Saar-class missile
boats that can carry six to
8 Gabriel missiles and two
torpedo tubes. Also called
"Cherbourg" boats, they
displace 250 tons. Twelve
are in Israeli service.

They received the name
Cherbourg because the
last five were spirited to
Haifa from Cherbourg by
the Israeli navy in late
1969 after the French em-
bargoed further arms
sales to Israel.
• Dabur coastal patrol
boats, armed with 20-mm.
guns. Israel has 30 in
commission. They were
•built by RAIVITA, a sub-
sidiary -of IAI.
• Submarines. Israel
currently is putting into'
service three 520-ton
coastal boats built in
Great Britain. Two older
submarines of about
1,300-ton displacement,
also ex-British, are in
Several older landing
craft and patrol boats
also are in service.
Israel would like to col-
laborate with a U.S. boat-
builder on design and de-
velopment of a 100-ton,
missile-armed hydrofoil,
which is considered the
next top-priority require-
The Israeli budget dic-
tates the pace at which
the navy can expand and
modernize. Navy officials

readily admit that the air
force and land forces have
the first claim for
hardware procurement
Primary task of the
navy is to "keep the
threat as far as possible
from our shores," another
official said. This task re-
quirell fewer boats prior
to the 1967 war when the
coastline stretched less
than 100 miles from the
Lebanese border to t'
Gaza Strip. It is 1-
nearly 500 miles incl
ing the Mediterranean
and Red Sea shores.
By exploiting the Gab-
riel missile, its Saar and
Reshef platforms and as-
sociated electronics, the
Israeli navy has been ef-
fective in controlling its
sea lanes and shores.
But as Arab sea power
develops, the need be-
comes urgent for more
advanced missiles with
more range.
Israel wants to add the
Harpoon to its Reshef
fleet. This missile has a
range of about 50 miles.
Gabriel Mk.2 has a 26-
mile range, and Gabriel
Mk.1, about 14 miles.

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