The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America is the largest Sephardic benevolent organization of its kind in the United States. Founded in 1916 by Jewish immigrants from Ottoman lands, the Brotherhood has worked to serve the most needy in our community and create a home for Sephardic Jews from around the world.
The Brotherhood has the unique mission to support Sephardic individuals, families, and communities deriving their lineage from the Ladino-speaking Jewish communities of Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans. Unlike the Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe and the Arabic speaking Jews of the Middle East, these Sephardic Jews date their history back to Spain, where they developed the language of Ladino (Judeo-Espanyol), a mix of biblical Hebrew, old Catalan Spanish, and elements of Greek, Turkish, and Arabic. After the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, these communities carried their language, culture, liturgy, and traditions with them to the Ottoman lands of the Balkans. Centuries later, many of these Jews immigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th Century.
The organization began as a volunteer mutual aid and burial society, where membership dues were 10 cents per week at a time when laborers earned as little as $5 per week. During the 1920’s and into the Great Depression, it created a fund to help community members in need and established a scholarship program for its members’ children. The Brotherhood also supported the creation of Sephardic synagogues in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens well into the 1950’s and 1960’s. Over the years other Sephardic community organizations that traced their ancestry from Istanbul, Rhodes, Izmir, Adrianople, and other Mediterranean cities merged with the Brotherhood, serving to further unite our Sephardic community in the United States.
Today, the Brotherhood is proud to serve nearly 1,000 families from across the United States and continues to support the Sephardic community in the spirit laid out by our society’s founders. In addition to providing burial services for its members, the Brotherhood has expanded its programs to support the future generations of our community and reinvent what it means to be Sephardic in the 21st Century. New initiatives include a Sephardic Birthright Israel Trip, the annual Greek Jewish Festival in Lower Manhattan, and the Greek Jewish & Sephardic Young Professionals Network, which have all been created to ensure we meet the needs of our newest generation of members.
Now celebrating our 100th Anniversary, the Brotherhood looks forward to continue to serve as the preeminent organization that supports and unites Sephardic families from around the world for years to come.