I never cease to marvel at the flourishing Sephardic life in the tri-state area, and particularly in Manhattan. It seems that every week, we hear about a new Sephardic synagogue, a Torah class for French Moroccan Jews – in French – a new Sephardic studies program at an established Jewish day school, a Hachnasat Sefer Torah, a lecture series. One of my favorite examples of the booming Sephardic life in New York is the Hevrat Bakashot, started by my cousin, Sacha Ouazana.
He’s a banker by day, and a musician and researcher by night. Sacha, together with other like-minded French Moroccan Jews, has replicated the ancient Bakashot societies that were found among the Jews of Arab lands, especially in Morocco and Syria. They would sing liturgical songs based on the weekly Torah portion; each city its own tunes and traditions.
Ari Afilalo is a French Moroccan immigrant who lives in New York City. He is an active member of the West Side Sephardic Synagogue and of the French Moroccan community in the City.