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under the leadership of Rabbi Aharon Bassous

The past fifteen years have seen the Sephardim in London make great strides. New communities have been established, focusing on Torah education, more and more families have come closer to their roots, and an awareness in the wider community of the richness of a religious lifestyle is increasing.

Our aim is now to accelerate this process by providing an all-encompassing place which will be reaching out to all segments of the Sephardi community and actively catering for their needs.

We hope to be able to establish a community, returning the pride of the Sephardim in this country to its former glory.

The Jewish community is witnessing dramatic changes.

There has been a remarkable resurgence in Jewish learning and a sense of renewal in all aspects of Judaism. There is a renewed pride in Jewish identity in countries where acknowledging one's Jewishness was forbidden for decades. There are thousands of books published in every language. There are schools and education programmes appearing wherever there are Jews to be found.

And yet increasing numbers of people are marrying outside of the religion, and family life and values are being challenged on every level.

This contradiction is perhaps not so surprising, but it should not be witnessed with complacency. There is a need for more outreach and development in those parts of the community which have not benefited from the huge surge in optimism within the religion.

Torah learning and a Jewish way of life is the only way to guarantee continuity.

The experience of the Sephardim in this country might be described as that of the minority within a minority. If it were not difficult enough to sustain a Jewish identity here, it has been still more problematic to sustain the traditions and learning from the oriental countries.

There is a history among the Sephardim of pluralism and tolerance. Differing traditions are sustained and respected. Thankfully, there has been no experience of ideological divisiveness witnessed elsewhere in the Jewish community. And yet there is a less obvious threat to be witnessed, as Sephardim gradually forget those specific customs which make the faith their own. And with that loss, so too there comes a loss of identity.



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