fbpx

Sephardic Torah | He Loved Books, People and Sephardic Manuscripts: A Memorial Tribute to Rabbi Meir Abitbol z”l

Rabbi Meir Abitbol z”l passed away between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, leaving behind an unmatched legacy of singlehandedly facilitating the revival of the Sephardic world of Torah scholarship.
[additional-authors]
September 28, 2023

Last week, the Jewish world lost a special individual whose life was devoted to disseminating the wisdom of Sephardic Sages. Rabbi Meir Abitbol z”l passed away between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, leaving behind an unmatched legacy of singlehandedly facilitating the revival of the Sephardic world of Torah scholarship.

Born in Casablanca in 1944, the young Meir was educated in Moroccan yeshivot in Tangier and then in the Gateshead Yeshiva in England. Before moving to Israel, he helped build Sephardic yeshivot in Paris and Montreal.

In 1981 he made Aliyah with his wife and children, where he continued his work in establishing and strengthening Torah institutions that would teach the works of Sephardic rabbis.

But something always bothered him. The works of Torah scholarship of Sephardic rabbis were mostly absent from libraries and Batei Midrash. Many were out of print, but most were unpublished manuscripts. He visited the manuscript collections of Israel’s National Library and of private collectors, discovering thousands of unpublished works by Sephardic Torah scholars. It pained him to see these gems neglected and alone. He decided to change this.

With the help of rabbis and donors from all over the world, he established Hasifriyah Hasefaradit – The Sephardic Library – a new publishing house that would focus on editing and publishing Sephardic manuscripts. By turning them into beautiful books, the public could now study from them. Rabbi Abitbol lifted the wisdom of Sephardic rabbis out of the genizah (storehouse) and into libraries and Batei Midrash, opening the minds and hearts of thousands of eager students to new wisdom from the Sephardic world.

Rabbi Abitbol’s passion for Sephardic manuscripts was matched by his love for people. More than just a publishing house, Hasifriyah Hasefaradit is also a beautiful bookstore in Jerusalem, a haven for Sephardic bibliophiles. It was here that Rabbi Abitbol proudly greeted thousands of visitors, welcoming them like the Ushpizin (honored guests) in a Sukkah.

Every summer at the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem, I lead Metivta, a 10-day seminar of Sephardic Torah studies for rabbis from all over the diaspora. One of our annual treats was our pilgrimage to Hasifriyah Hasefaradit, where Rabbi Abitbol warmly greeted us with love, refreshments…and books. When showing us the newest books, the smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes were priceless. We were kids in a candy store with the chief confectioner!

Rabbi Abitbol was a redeemer of Sephardic Torah. His noble efforts helped publish close to 500 new books that nobody had ever studied before.

He now rests in peace, surrounded in the Garden of Eden by all of the Sephardic sages whose books he brought to life.


Rabbi Daniel Bouskila is the director of the Sephardic Educational Center and the rabbi of the Westwood Village Synagogue.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Print Issue: Hide No More | Mar 1, 2024

We, the Jewish people, have risen to this time in history for a moment like this. A time in which we proudly explore and publicly honor our Jewish identity. A reclamation of the word Jew. Not used as a word to denigrate. But used as a word to self-celebrate.

CyberWell Is Monitoring Online Antisemitism

Since Oct. 7, CyberWell, the first real-time database of online antisemitism, observed almost an 86% increase in online antisemitism across major social media platforms.

Moses for President

Moses begged G-d to find another person to perform the daunting task of leading the Israelites to freedom. But once he agreed to do so, he succeeded brilliantly.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.