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My New Synagogue in Israel: Sephardi & Ashkenazi

My new Israeli synagogue is made up of Jews from all ethnic backgrounds.
[additional-authors]
February 14, 2024

From the earliest days of this long war, the unifying slogan here in Israel has been Yachad Nenatze’ach – Together we win. We see this on billboards, the Tel Aviv skyline is illuminated with these words at night, and one of the top songs on Spotify’s “Gaza War Playlist” is Sarit Hadad’s Yachad Nenatze’ach (see image above).

But do we actually mean it? Is “Jewish Unity” really possible?

For hundreds of years in the diaspora, our synagogues have been divided along ethnic lines, reflecting different geographical locales, customs, tunes and communities. We call these “Sephardi and Ashkenazi” synagogues. These various genres of synagogues represent the collective experiences of the Jewish people in the diaspora.

In his inaugural address as Chief Rabbi of Jaffa-Tel Aviv in 1911, Rabbi Uziel said: “As we now return to our natural homeland, there is absolutely no reason to continue living by these communal and linguistic divisions – Sephardi and Ashkenazi – imported from the diaspora. Instead, we will be one unified community.”

The most challenging place to realize Rabbi Uziel’s dream of “one unified community” is the synagogue. Is it possible to blend both of these beautiful customs – Sephardi and Ashkenazi – into one unified prayer service? In 1911, Rabbi Uziel believed it could be done, and in 2023, I discovered the realization of his dream, just one block away from my new home in Herzliya.

My new Israeli synagogue is made up of Jews from all ethnic backgrounds. There are Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Teimanim – all praying under one roof, as Israelis, as Jews. Our prayers feature the most beautiful blend of tunes from all customs. It’s a genuine expression and celebration of Jewish unity.

In commanding us to build the first House of Worship, God says: “They shall build for me a Mishkan, so that I will dwell among them(Exodus 25:8). 

God commanded us to build the Mishkan so that God could dwell among them – among us. Who is “them”? Who is “us”? Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Teimanim – Jews, Am Yisrael – one people. For hundreds of years, geography and customs separated us. In my new synagogue, we’re back together under one roof, per Rav Uziel’s vision. We haven’t compromised, we’ve unified. That’s what we are meant to do.

Every morning, and every Shabbat, in my new synagogue in Herzliya, I feel that Rav Uziel is looking down at our beautiful minyan and smiling…and so is God.

Yachad Nitpallel, Yachad Nenatz’each – together we pray, together we win. 

Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Daniel Bouskila is the international director of the Sephardic Educational Center.

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