OK, it appears that Yizchak Yosef has finally come into his own and has started to realize that the Ashkenazim are, with the best of intentions, completely destroying Sephardic customs.
Of course, his own family has a lot to do with this wholesale destruction of Sephardic Culture--I'm looking at a picture of Yizchak Yosef right now, and he is wearing a black hat, not the traditional dress of Sephardim. In addition, I just posted a story last week about Ovadia Yosef's family sending all their kids to Litvak institutions rather than Sephardic schools (not that the Sephardic schools remember who they are either!).
Just so you know how this happens, it isn't just weddings--it's everything. Let's take a wedding for example, though. Lots of Sephardic boys want to marry Ashkenazi girls because they have been taught that Ashkenazi girls are "more religious" by their "Rebbes" in Yeshiva. The Ashkenazi girls' parents pay for the wedding and, of course, insist upon Ashkenazi customs at the wedding. They also might insist upon "their" rabbi--Ashkenazi.
The girl goes to Ashkenazi Kallah classes and learns the Ashkenazi marriage customs, she dips Ashkenazi, and she probably also continues to light her candles like the Ashkenazim (just so you know, Sephardim say the blessing BEFORE we light the candles). All the while, she doesn't do this on purpose or in order to undermine her husband--she doesn't know the difference. Sephardim learn both customs, Ashkenazim only learn theirs--so they assume theirs are the only one! It is not intentional.
If a Sephardic Rabbi dares to follow his minhag and rule that way, the Ashkenazi rabbis say his followers are "not religious enough," and their kids don't come to eat at our houses or play with our children. We are "not religious enough" to attend their schools, and our ways are spoken of as if we are "traditional" or "conservative" not "Orthodox." Of course, none of those distinctions are part of Sephardic culture, but that doesn't matter to them.
It isn't just the Yeshivas where our children are educated to be Ashkenazi--it is also the day schools. Our children are subjected to lectures on how their "level of kashrut" is not acceptable, and how our ways are not "Kosher."
We are supposed to follow their every chumrah, and they teach those chomrot as law--they make no distinction when teaching between Torah, Rabbinical, Minhagim, and Chumrot.
So, I appreciate very much the effort this esteemed rabbi is making on behalf of Sephardim, but it is a day late and a dollar short.
We need our own schools DESPERATELY. Our people must start to give to Sephardic causes, to develop Sephardic Schools, to support Sephardic Rabbis and stand by them--even when they are pressured.
Rabbi Angel is our champion as well. We must support these rabbis and others like them. We also need a Rabbinical Association of Sephardic Rabbis to support them and give them strength in their communities.
Yitzchak Yosef: Rabbis encouraging Sephardic Jews to 'turn Ashkenazi'
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's son furious at Sephardic Yeshiva students who take up 'vulgar custom' of retiring to seclusion room (yichud) immediately after wedding ceremony
Published: 02.14.08, 12:52 / Israel Jewish Scene
Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef is fighting back. After taking fire from Ashkenazi rabbis on his rulings regarding the shmita year, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s son is waging a war of his own.
In a newsletter distributed by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, Rabbi Yosef condemned Ashkenazi heads of yeshivas who are encouraging their Sephardic pupils to follow their customs and are ‘turning them Ashkenazi’ in their practices.
The rabbi focused in particular on the customary ‘seclusion’ of a bride and groom on their wedding day, which typically occurs in a private room following the couple’s union. Sephardic Jews typically enact this symbolic seclusion, called yichud, right after the traditional wedding meal. Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand, send the bride and groom off for seclusion right after the chupah; that is the wedding ceremony itself.
'Deviating from the ways of our Sephardic rabbis'
Rabbi Yosef deemed this Ashkenazi custom as ‘ugly’ and ‘vulgar’ based upon prior religious edicts issued by top Sephardic rabbis, such as the head of the Ben Porat Yeshiva Rabbi Shaul Tzadakha, as well as Rabbi Ezra Attia and Rabbi Abba Shaul.
Chastising Sephardic yeshiva students who have taken on Ashkenazi customs, Rabbi Yosef noted that “they are acting in an inappropriate manner”. He also criticized Ashkenazi heads of yeshivas stating that “these Ashkenazi rabbis should not encourage Sephardic students to deviate from customs and traditions enacted by top rabbis and halachic rulers.”
Further backing his assertions, Rabbi Yosef also quoted his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who wrote in his response entitled ‘Yabia Omer’ that “whoever transgresses from Sephardic custom in this respect ought to be hushed and chastised out of respect for the torah greats of the generation”.
Yet another Ashkenazi custom, namely allowing the groom to hold the bride’s hand on their way to the seclusion room, and also allowing the couple to be accompanied by friends as they head off to consummate their marriage, was also criticized by Rabbi Yosef. He noted that the bride and groom ought to head off to seclusion right after the traditional wedding feast, and that they ought to be accompanied by relatives alone.
Rabbi Yosef spared no words for the Sephardic yeshiva students who take on such practices. “Only in recent years have Sephardic students attending Ashkenazi yeshivas begun to deviate from the ways of our Sephardic rabbis. It is clear, however, that we must not forsake the traditions of our forefathers.”
The rabbi also praised Sephardic rabbis who insist upon Sephardic custom throughout the wedding ceremonies that they oversee.