A la Karte: Boutique Kosher Catering

If you keep kosher, and you need to attend a business lunch in a non-kosher restaurant, what do you do? If you have a large family, and you are charged with cooking a kosher holiday meal for everyone, who can you call? If your family is Ashkefardic, and you would like to please all of their palates, who can cook authentically for both traditions? The answer is A la Karte Boutique Cuisine & Catering.

You don’t need to bring a brown bag to a lunch meeting in a non-kosher restaurant. Thanks to A la Karte, you may order something off the menu, and your dish will be kosher, while your lunch companions will get the regular restaurant fare. How is this possible? A la Karte has an arrangement with several restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area to provide kosher versions of that particular restaurant’s cuisine. Of all of A la Karte’s boutique offerings, this one grabbed my attention the most.

IMG_0115With Rosh Hashanah approaching, many of us are planning a festive meal for our family and friends. It’s a lot of work! A la Karte is a wonderful resource. It is possible to order all of the traditional recipes from the extensive menu, no matter how large your group is. Best of all, A la Karte will deliver.

Ofelia Cohen, the proprietor of A la Karte, was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Coincidentally, I also grew up in Caracas, where the Jewish community was half Ashkenazi and half Sephardic. Both of us celebrated the Jewish holidays with Ashkenzi and Sephardic friends. We are used to serving foods from both traditions at our festive meals. A la Karte offers a unique menu for Rosh Hashanah, which features many of the foods, we remember enjoying during our childhood. You will find traditional Eastern European fare such as gefilte fish next to fiery North African chraime.

AaW_ic_L7mZg5z1rCVjHjyLTfGq5Chef Cohen trained as an architect before she fell in love with food. This background is put to good use in a service she calls tablescaping. For those who are too busy or artistically challenged to set a beautiful holiday table, Ofelia is available to take care of it.

She just signed a lease for a new location in Bala Cynwyd. A la Karte will be moving to the space currently occupied by Coopermarket, at 302 Levering Mill Road. Her vision is to create a prepared food kosher mini market. It will serve take out lunch or dinner, with eat-in option in a communal table. She hopes that guests of different walks of life have conversations there. She would like to see interactions between Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and totally secular Jews, all enjoying delicious kosher food together.

Ceviche: A Sephardic Gift to Peru

A Niche for Peruvian Fish Dish of Cevice at your Shabbat Tisch!

 

The origin of ceviche, the Peruvian national dish of fish in a citrus marinade, may be a Jewish Sabbath dish from the Iberian Peninsula. Some experts believe that a type of ceviche existed in Peru long before the Spanish arrived, in the form of raw fish flavored with fermented passionfruit juice. Escabeche is a type of fish dish that was typically served during Shabbat dinner in Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. The Jews adopted this method of preparation from the Persians. It was so well loved that it was even mentioned in “One Thousand and One Nights,” the collection of Arab folk tales.

To prepare escabeche, very fresh fish was cleaned and mixed with vinegar, olive oil, fresh laurel leaves, whole peppercorns, and wine. It was allowed to “cook” in this liquid for several hours. The escabeche was served cold. When America was colonized, many Sephardic Jews left the Iberian Peninsula to escape the Spanish Inquisition. They brought their recipes with them.

The conquistadores brought citrus fruits and onions with them to America. The recipes for escabeche were tweaked in the New World, and perhaps fused with the local Native Ameircan traditions. Sardines, Tuna, Mackerel, Hake, and Cod were used to make escabeche in Spain and Portugal. In Peru, Sea Bass and Flounder are popular choices in the preparation of ceviche. Instead of vinegar, fresh lime was used in the marinade.

This summer, try this refreshing way of preparing fish.

Photo by PROFoodie Buddha https://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiebuddha/

Photo by PROFoodie Buddha

Ceviche Clasico
Adapted from Pisco Trail

  • 1/4 Lb. very fresh sole or salmon (preferably sushi grade), cubed.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • 1/2 tsp. minced jalapeno pepper.
  • 1 tbsp. minced red onion.
  • 5 thin slices habanero pepper.
  • 1 boiled sweet potato, cubed.
  • Fresh coriander, minced.
  • 2 limes, juiced.
  1. Place the fish, salt, lime, onion, jalapeno and habanero peppers, sweet potato, and coriander in a bowl.
  2. Serve on a small plate.

Saving the Old Synagogues in Turkey

— by Nisim Ben Joya

Etz Hayim Synagogue

Etz Hayim Synagogue in Izmir, Turkey.

The old synagogues in Izmir, Turkey comprise the only complex in the world of adjacent synagogues in a unique Sephardic architectural style.

Dating back to the 16th century, they were built by deportees from Spain and their descendants, following the Spanish Expulsion of 1492. Considering their deteriorating condition, it is obvious that without massive and quick intervention, there is a real danger that some of these treasures will cave in completely.

Approximately five years ago, the Mordechai Kiriaty Foundation received a call from the Shazar Center and the Avi Chai Foundation to save the ancient synagogues in Izmir. This was the genesis of the Izmir Project.

senyora 1The Izmir Project was created to preserve and restore the nine salvageable of the original 34. The main goals of the project are to preserve this unique heritage for future generations. There is a plan to establish a Jewish Museum on the site of the old synagogue compound.

The Jewish Museum of Izmir will tell the epic story of the deportation of Jews from Spain. It will allow visitors to experience firsthand the unique culture of Sephardic Jews. It will also allow Muslims to get to know and understand Jewish culture and traditions, and to appreciate Izmir’s earlier practice of tolerance and acceptance of Jews.

Sephardic Hanukkah: A Dairy Celebration of Daughters

Judith kills General Holofernes. Painting by Vincenzo Catena.

— by Ronit Treatman

The story of Hanukkah is often portrayed with images of brave, muscular male warriors, such as:

There were Greek-Syrian soldiers, fighting on behalf of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Greek-Syrians looked fearsome in their armor, and heavy metal swords as they deployed their weapon of mass destruction, the war elephant. The Maccabee men fought back, using homemade slings and maces, and guerrilla tactics.

The Maccabees were victorious after seven years, and Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory. Hanukkah means “dedication”: The Second Temple in Jerusalem was purified and rededicated once the revolt was over.

However, it is acknowledged that the Maccabee victory would not have been possible without the support of the brave Jewish women. It is the tradition in parts of the Sephardic world that the seventh day of Hanukkah is reserved especially to celebrate the women and girls of the community.

Sambusak recipe after the jump.
Hannah (Second Book of Maccabees 7:1-41) is honored for losing her seven sons, and her own life, for not worshiping King Antiochus’ idols.

In some Sephardic communities, the seventh night of Hanukkah is called chag habanot (festival of the daughters). On this night, women get exclusive use of the synagogues to study Torah, bless their daughters, and celebrate. The men take care of the children, and prepare dairy treats for the women.


Sambusak.

It is customary to eat dairy foods because of the heroism of Judith. Judith was a beautiful young widow, who lived during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (400 years before the time of the Maccabees). She caught the eye of General Holofernes, who had been dispatched to besiege the fictitious city of Bethulia (probably Jerusalem).

When Holofernes tried to seduce her, she plied him with salty cheeses and wine. He became so inebriated that he fell into a deep sleep.  Seizing this opportunity, Judith cut his head off with his own sword.  

When she displayed the severed head to Holofernes’s soldiers, They were so terrified that they fled, ending the siege. Over time, Judith was believed to be an ancestor of the Maccabees, and this narrative was associated with Hanukkah.  

Sephardic men pamper the women during chag habanot by preparing a special dish called Sambusak.  

Sambusak is a type of hand pie, which originated in Persia. It is made of pastry or yeast dough, filled with a combination of several types of cheese, some of them very sharp. These flavorful cheeses are a reminder of General Holoferne’s weakness, skillfully exploited by Judith.  To save time, many cooks use frozen puff pastry.

Below is a recipe from the Jewish community of Baghdad.

Sambusak B-Jibbin (Cheese Sambusak)
Adapted from Mrs. Lamaan Heardoon

For the dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons quick-acting dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  1. In a bowl, place the water, yeast, and sugar. Mix well, then let rest for 15 minutes.  
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and knead the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean towel, and place in warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for 3 hours.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup grated feta, kashkaval, kasseri, or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  

Assembly:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Pull off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling at the center of the rolled-out dough.  
  • Fold the dough over into the shape of a half moon. Pinch the edges shut.
  • Place on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden-brown.

An Unknown Country: Documentary on Ecuador’s Jews

— by Ronit Treatman

Exotic, tropical Ecuador is a paradisaical destination for a romantic vacation. But who knew that it was also a refuge for Jews fleeing the Holocaust? They joined the Sephardic community, which had been there since the beginning of the Spanish colonization.

Emmy award-winning producer and writer Eva Zelig has been producing a new documentary about this community’s story, which is also that of her own family, for the last three years. The project was largely financed by a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.  

Easy Sesame-Date Rosh Hashanah Strudel

— by Ronit Treatman

Would you like to impress your family and friends with an exotic strudel for Rosh Hashanah, that’s also economical and easy to make? Known as a traditional Viennese pastry, apple strudel originated with Romanian and Hungarian Jews as a food for the Jewish New Year. This recipe is a unique Israeli fusion of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Rosh Hashanah customs.

Dates are one of the simanim, or symbolic foods, of the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder. The word for date in Hebrew is תמר “tamar,” which contains the verb תם “tam” (to end). In the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder, dates are eaten with the prayer (below the jump) that our enemies be consumed. For this strudel, flaky puff pastry is layered with creamy sesame paste, crunchy walnuts, and velvety date puree. You can bake it yourself in a few easy steps. All you need is frozen puff pastry, Medjool dates, raw sesame paste, and chopped nuts.

Prayers and Full recipe after the jump.
Sesame-Date Strudel

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates  
  • 1 cup raw sesame paste
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • Confectioner’s sugar for garnishing
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  3. Process the pitted dates in a blender, with a bit of boiling water, until they form a thick paste.
  4. Unfold the puff pastry onto the parchment paper.
  5. Spread 1 cup of raw sesame paste on the pastry.
  6. Spread 1 1/2 cups of date paste over the sesame paste.
  7. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the date paste.
  8. Fold the pastry over the filling.
  9. Pinch the edges shut.
  10. Beat the egg with one tablespoon of cold water.
  11. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the strudel is golden-brown.
  13. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Prayers over dates

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ
May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

Source: Chabad.

Traces of Sephardic Heritage in the Catalan Cuisine

— by Espe Teruel

The current cuisine of any people is the result of many causes: tradition, culture, customs, native products, and the influences of different cultures that have been present at some point in history nearby that nation. In the current Catalan cuisine we can find conspicuous traces of inheritance from the Sephardic cuisine. They have undergone the typical evolution of time, and adapted to local products.

Sephardic Jews from Spain brought to the cities of the Ottoman Empire and North Africa a taste for olive oil, almonds, citrus, saffron, and sweets made with eggs and egg yolks. They brought with them the expertise of using spices, and flower essences, such as rose water or orange blossom water.

More after the jump.
There is an old Sephardic proverb that says, “What you ate or did not eat does not matter. What matters is that you sat at the table.” This shows that just as in the Catalan culture, the important thing is not so much the menu, but if you shared your meal with others, making it a social event.

Here are some examples:

L’aperitiu

In Catalunya, especially on holidays and other celebrations, meals usually start with what we call “L’aperitiu” (which could be equated to “meze”). Small quantities of more or less elaborate appetizers are served. Many of these dishes recall the Sephardic custom quoted.

L’escalivada

A dish of grilled vegetables, especially eggplant and peppers, but you can add others such as onion, garlic, tomatoes and all dressed with olive oil, salt, garlic and parsley. According to some experts, this dish could be considered a local evolution of the medieval Sephardic almadrote (cheese and garlic sauce)”.

Escudella i carn d’olla

This dish, labeled as Catalan today, could have originated, as Claudia Roden explains in her book “The Food of Spain,” in the adafina, the large pot with plenty of food inside that Jews cooked over low heat in Friday night to have it ready on Sabbath, in which you can not light the fire (similarly to cholent).

Espinacs a la catalana

In this dish we can see the evidence of its Sephardic origin in its ingredients: It’s a delicious combination of spinach, raisins and pine nuts, seasoned with garlic.

Cigrons amb espinacs

In the Sephardic cookbooks, another recipe usually found is “stewed chickpeas with spinach.” This is another dish that we cook today in Catalan cuisine. There are as many variations as cooks, but they are essentially based on the aforementioned Sephardic dish.

Postre de Músic

The “dessert of Music” is a typical Catalan dessert, made with various dried fruits and nuts, accompanied by sweet wine, like in Tu B’Shvat. Drying the fruits was the way to use them out of their season.

Fideuà amb aioli

The recipe for this dish is based on a typical Sephardic way to cook the noodles: it starts with sauteing the noodles in oil until golden-brown, unlike other styles, in which the pasta is placed directly into the broth.

Pa de Pessic

The “Country of Pessic” biscuit is popular in Central Catalonia, especially in the city of Vic. It reminds us of Pan d’Espanya, or “fluffy Sephardic bread.” In Catalonia, this is the standard basis of Easter cakes. Not so for the Sephardim, who do not consider it ksoher for Passover, as it is made with self-rising flour.

Bunyols de vent

Historically, those donuts are a Jewish pastry that has been prepared since the tenth century to celebrate Chanukah. Due to the proximity of the holiday with All Saints, they also became part of the Christian repertoire. In Catalonia, they are traditionally eaten on Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent.

Bunyols Empordà

The “Bunyols de l’Empordà” are typical to the region of Empordà. We can find the Sephardic version of this recipe under the name “Biscochos de anise,” or anise donuts.

Ensïmada de Mallorca

Typical to the island of Mallorca, this pastry is crafted with all kinds of fillings such as pumpkin, cream, and chocolate. The spectacular sweet has its ancestry in the “Kalabasa Rodanchas,” a Jewish specialty.

Panellets

Marzipan began as a sweet for Passover, one of the many that are made without flour. It is made with almonds, hence its name in Ladino, “almendradas.” Many varieties of marzipan are made in Catalonia. Pine nuts, coconut, almonds, cherries, coffee, quince, and lemon are some of the ingredients included.

Espe Teruel was born in Premia de Dalt, a village in the province of Barcelona, ​​in 1962. She grew up in a bicultural environment, in which the customs of her parents, who came from Andalusia, were combined with those of Catalonia. She is fond of cooking, and wants to know the different cuisines around her, especially those of the Mediterranean.

Reclaiming the Anusim: the Sephardic Perspective

— by Carlos Zarur

According to an article in eSefarad ,”A decision by the ultra-orthodox rabbi Nissim Karelitz recognizes that the Chuetas of Mallorca, who were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition and remained a distinct group within Mallorcan society until the 1970s, had the right to call themselves Jews.” How do Sephardic Jews view this?

Some in the Sephardic community ask themselves, “who is this Ashkenazi rabbi to make that decision?” They believe that the Chuetas of Mallorca never stopped being Jews.  Even if they did not practice Judaism, they preserved the Jewish identity by avoiding intermarriage at all. Mallorcan Secret Jews (Xuetas) are halachically Jewish, since they did not intermarry for centuries.

More after the jump.
Since medieval times, the Sephardic sages ruled that Ashkenazi Rabbis do not have powers of decision regarding Sephardic matters, and vice versa. Halachic Sephardic sources say it very clearly: Crypto-Jews, Anusim, or Conversos are Jews, as well as their children, if they have hazzaqqa (force of tradition of being Jews), endogamy (marrying only other anusim or other Jews), Jewish genealogy, and the proven historic practice of Jewish customs.

Sadly, there are not too many scholars, anthropologists, or rabbis qualified to determine who is who in the Crypto-Jewish world. Modern day rabbis, even those who are Sephardic, are not aware of how the Halacha sees these people. They are not trained to research the Crypto-Jewish phenomenon, since they are not anthropologists, or trained in anthropological research.

Ashkenazi and Sephardic hakhamim (learned scholars) disagree on Halachic matters on how to deal with the Crypto, or “secret” Jews. Sephardic rabbis have always helped secret Jews to return to the open Jewish practice, without any kind of conversion. Ashkenazi rabbis always asked for re-conversion, which makes sense, since Ashkenazi rabbis were not part of the Sephardic world and were not aware of the phenomena.

For a secret Jew, it is very insulting to be asked for a conversion (an approach supported by many mainstream Sephardic Jews, anthropologist, and some rabbis). These conversions are pasul (invalid) and totally non-Halachic. Of course, each case should be individually analyzed by knowledgeable people, using very strict criteria. After all, there are several cases of fake Crypto-Jews.

Carlos Zarur holds Masters’ Degrees in Jewish studies in the areas of Comparative Religious Studies, Sephardic Studies, Marranism Studies (Crypto Judaism), Peripheral Jewish Communities, Culture and Customs of Oriental (Mizrahi) Jewries, and Western and Eastern Sephardic Culture and Customs. He also has done field research in Crypto-Judaism in several countries in Europe and the American Continent, Syrian Jews, and the Jews of India. As a Professor, he has taught at the University of Colorado in the Anthropology Department and The Jewish Studies Program.

Mikveh Israel: “Synagogue of the Revolution”

— by Mark I. Wolfson

Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, “The Hope of Israel,” is the oldest Jewish congregation in the city of Philadelphia, and the second oldest congregation in the United States. It dates its roots back to 1740 when Nathan Levy, upon the death of his child, applied for a grant of land at 9th and Spruce Streets from Thomas Penn, Proprietor of Pennsylvania, to consecrate as a Jewish burial ground.

More after the jump.
At the time of its founding, the only other Jewish congregation in the United States was Kahal Kadosh Shearith Israel in New York City. That congregation was formed by Dutch Sephardic Jews who were descendants of Spanish and Portuguese refugees of the Inquisition. A number of the early founding members of Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia were from prominent Sephardic families in New York, Charleston, Richmond and Savannah, and though another large number were Ashkenazi Jews, there was broad agreement to adopt the Spanish and Portuguese customs and rite that prevailed in the country at the time. The service and customs remain largely unchanged up to the present time.

Mikveh Israel is called “Synagogue of the Revolution” because the early founding members of the congregation were very involved in the activities that led up to the war, with many of them signing the Non-Importation Act of 1765. Many of the members were very active in the war effort itself, either directly fighting on the American side, supplying the army with food, ammunition, equipment, and clothing, or contributing funds that made the war itself possible and ensured an American victory. After the war, members of Mikveh Israel remained in regular contact with Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and the other leaders who wrote the constitution and shaped the country in its earliest days.

Still Remembered: Reverend Abraham Lopes Cardozo of Mikveh Israel

— by Mark I. Wolfson

We remember Hazzan Abraham Lopes Cardozo. Rev. Cardozo was Hazzan of Shearith Israel From 1946 until his retirement in 1984. He was the embodiment of the Western Sephardic liturgical tradition that was brought to North America from Amsterdam via Recife, Montreal, and the Caribbean, among other places. He was the spiritual and musical teacher of the present Rabbi of Mikveh Israel, R. Albert Gabbai, bringing some of his rich influence to Philadelphia. Rabbi Gabbai would often invite Rev. Cardozo to come to Philadelphia for High Holidays and other occasions after his retirement.

Rev. Cardozo was born on September 27, 1914. His father, Joseph Lopes Cardozo, was the leader of the boys choir at the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. He was also a violinist, and along with Cardozo and his two brothers, the foursome formed a band that played at various gatherings and communal holiday celebrations. They all could play keyboards and also string, reed, and brass instruments. Of course, Bram, as Abraham Cardozo was known, grew up completely immersed in music of all kinds and had a natural talent. He even played piano as a toddler. As he grew, he could play any piece he heard by ear.

More after the jump.
At 18, “Bram” Cardozo earned his degree as a Hebrew teacher from the Ets Haim Seminary in Amsterdam. A few years later in 1938, he answered an advertisement for a Hazzan who was needed for a congregation in Surinam, Zedek Ve-Shalom. The ad was placed by his future father-in-law, Judah Robles, who was Parnas of the synagogue at the time. After much deliberation over different candidates, Bram Cardozo was chosen because of his credentials and also because the salary, paid for by the Dutch government, and living conditions were appropriate for a single young man. He arrived in Paramaribo, Suriname on September 9, 1939. As it turned out, this appointment saved his life. All of the rest of his family in Holland perished in the Holocaust. Throughout his life, he observed Tisha B’Ab as the Nahalah (anniversary) for all of his relatives that were murdered, as this is the national Jewish day of mourning.

In 1945, Rev. Cardozo took a six-month leave of absence from his job as Hazzan in Suriname, and headed to New York. The Suriname community was declining in the wake of the war, and he wanted to expand his horizons and look for other opportunities. New York City provided the perfect vibrant Jewish community for him to spread his wings. Of course, Rev. Cardozo found his way to the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, Shearith Israel. There, as a visiting Hazzan of a sister synagogue, he was invited to lead services. This led to an offer to join the congregational staff as an Assistant Hazzan, which he accepted. After returning to Suriname to give notice to a very disappointed Mr. Robles, be began his long tenure at Shearith Israel on January 1, 1946.

Immediately on starting as Hazzan, Rev. Cardozo reunited with the daughter of his former Parnas in Suriname, Irma Miriam Robles, who was working in New York and attending Shearith Israel regularly. They shared many of the same friends and grew close over the next few years. In December of 1950 they became engaged, and had a beautiful wedding on March 11, 1951, officiated by Rev. Dr. David de Sola Pool of Shearith Israel, assistant minister Rev. Dr. Louis Gerstein, and Rev. David Jessurun Cardozo, the Rabbi of sister congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia. Of course, the first piece of furniture they acquired for their new home was a piano — a Baldwin Acrosonic upright. The Cardozos had two daughters, Debby and Judy, born in 1952 and 1955.

Rev. Cardozo was devoted to and strictly upheld the Spanish and Portuguese minhag, though in his private life he also appreciated other traditions. In many ways he was a living bridge between the Old World, represented by the Amsterdam Sephardi community, which was made up of descendants of refugees from the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, and the New World, in the first congregation in America. As the Amsterdam community was being decimated by the Nazis, Cardozo escaped just in time and continued the traditions in the New World. Rabbi Marc Angel, long time Rabbi of Shearith Israel speaking at his funeral in 2006, said that Rev. Cardozo was an ember that survived the ashes of the Holocaust.

Rev. Cardozo’s passion in life was Hazzanut, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than leading the congregation in prayer using the tunes he knew and loved so well. Sadly though, as he was required to strictly maintain the Shearith Israel minhag, he was prevented from introducing some of the other Spanish and Portuguese melodies from the mother synagogue in his native Amsterdam that he so eagerly wanted to keep alive. Though he was not given the title of Minister of the congregation until late in life, he performed weddings, funerals, and gave eloquent eulogies.

After he retired, he wrote two books, each with an accompanying CD of music. The first was Sephardic Songs of Praise, followed a couple of years later by Selected Sephardic Chants. Many of his friends collaborated to present a petition to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, nominating Rev. Cardozo for the title of “Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau” for his service during World War II, his preserving the traditions and minhag as practiced for hundreds of years in Amsterdam, and his loyal and proud representation of the Dutch Jewish Heritage. He was officially knighted in the year 2000.

In March 2005, Rev. Cardozo fell and broke his hip. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered and passed away on February 21, 2006 (23 Shebat 5766) at the age of 92. Hundreds of people came to the synagogue to attend his funeral and pay their respects to this great and humble man and leader of the community for 60 years. Eulogies were given by dozens of leaders, rabbis, colleagues, close friends and family. Rabbi Angel led the hakafot (circuits) around the coffin in a very moving ceremony, after which the coffin was draped with his talet (prayer shawl).

I just want to share one very small personal anecdote: I used to lead the Friday night Shabbat service at Mikveh Israel. One time, when Rev. Cardozo was visiting for Shabbat at the invitation of Rabbi Gabbai, he led the Friday night service faster than I have ever heard it done. It was so fast, I could hardly follow along. After the service, as I was wishing him a Shabbat Shalom, I remarked on the speed with which he read the service. He replied, with a twinkle in his eye, “they don’t call me the Flying Dutchman for nothing!”.

Mark I. Wolfson is the creator of Mikveh Israel History. The goal of the blog is to provide articles on the people and events of Mikveh Israel over the past few hundred years. Mikveh Israel and its members helped shape the Jewish community in Philadelphia and the rest of the country, and established the educational and charitable institutions that set the example for social responsibility in all communities.