Based on the following question: How to deal with Anti Semitism?

Is there a standard way for a Jew to deal with the disregarding/ignoring/erasing/belittling of non Ashkenazi received traditions/cultures, whether it's from a Non-Jew, a fellow lay Jew, or even from a Rabbi?

Should they:

  • Simply ignore it?
  • Write about it in a public way?
  • Attempt to educate the person who said it?
  • Respond immediately in a corrective way?

Are there Rabbinic opinions, laws, teachings or strong traditions which suggest what to do in this situation?

Note 1: Ashkenormativity has the following common definitions: "The assumption that Jews are Ashkenazi Jews by default, and that Ashkenazi culture is the culture of Judaism at large." "a unique form of eurocentrism that has found its way into Jewish culture"

Note 2: Many non Jews make Ashkenormative statements based on the over representation of Ashkenazim in American media. So a non Jew may "assume" that all Jews eat gefilte fish and latkes and speak Yiddish. Even googling "Jewish Music" in English brings the assumption that you would also be searching for Yiddish music.

Note 3: Only answers that provide sources will be accepted. Posts strictly with personal opinions will likely be deleted.

Note 4: Ashkenormativity is not simply a matter of "there are more Ashkenazim so of course more material is Ashkenazi." When people talk about Ashkenormativity they are talking about situations like Sephardic Rabbis being forced to dress like Ashkenazim to be "taken seriously." Or the weird orientalism that sometimes Ashkenazim manifest toward Sephardim/Mizrahim like in this video. The Ashkenazi Rabbi in the video repeatedly refers to Rabbi Drori as a "Sephardi" and even tells the audience to "look at him," while Rabbi Drori has to wait and inform him that he's actually Yemenite. More extreme cases of Ashkenormativity may be classified in situations like Yemenites having their children stolen and given to Ashkenazim, or Syrians having the Aleppo codex stolen from them by the government of Israel.

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    Note everyone: only answers that provide "a law, teaching or strong tradition which suggests what to do in this situation" are acceptable, if any such things exist (doubtful). Posts with your own thoughts will likely be deleted.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 19:53
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    Most jews are ashkenazi, and i’d venture to guess that most religious jews are ashkenazi. Because of this it’s only natural that most material on judaism you will find (like the music example) is going to be ashkenazi as well. Ashkenazim make up most of american jewry that’s why it’s considered the norm but my experience in israel left me believing it was more diverse there
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 22:15
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    Come on, this question is simply a rant! The only good thing is to visit many synagogues and see different customs, even among the Ashkenazim. This is what I myself do, and strangely enough I don't think that I should be pushy with my customs. The thing what you describe is caused by ignorance, and both major groups suffer from it. I remember that a Persian Jew took my machine to his rabbi to show him that these weird Ashkenazim said piyutim in the repetition. Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 18:17
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    [machine = machzor] Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 6:46
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    @Kazibácsi thanks for the clarification on your comment. I read it last night and ultimately concluded that you had given him your mp3 player... :D
    – Harel13
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


This answer is unsourced, because what you are asking is a sociological question about a minority-within-a-minority rather than a halachic question

First of all, you are not imagining things. Ashkenormativity does indeed exist in some countries, particularly in the US. I myself grew up without any idea that I was Sephardic, let alone with any more than the faintest notion of what the Sephardic legacy pertained to beyond the Rambam, the Spanish Inquisition and jelly doughnuts on Chanukkah.

Now to put things in perspective, a quick Mashel, which also happens to be a true story. A friend of mine here in Jerusalem has a SUPER Ashkenazi last name, spent years and years in yeshivot, and prays nusach Sepharad at a Sephardi Beit HaKenesset here. One time I asked him "So did you switch nusachs, or what?" He laughed and told me "it's a crazy story" which he then proceeded to tell me: His grandfather was a German Jew from a middle-claas family that like many other families, Jew and Gentile alike, lost everything except their home during the hyperinflation of the 1920's. As a result, he joined the French Foreign Legion, and was eventually stationed in Algeria, where he proceeded to marry a nice local Jewish girl- of, of course Sephardi extraction. Now, Algerian Jews were indeed subjected to a series of terrible restrictions by Vichy France- they were thrown out of government schools and jobs, some were forced into internment camps in the desert- etc. etc. And yet I think we can say with some confidence that they fared significantly better than those in Germany! At any rate this man was quite happy to have a Sephardi Beit HaKenesset to pray in, and his descendants are religious BH and pray utilizing a North African nusach. Should he have complained about "Sephardanormativity"? That he was being marginalized in some way?

When someone tells you about their minhag, you are free to cheerfully share yours. If they try to correct you (e.g. "No, when you daven for someone you have to use their mother's name [as per standard Ashkenazi practice]), you can again cheerfully but firmly insist (e.g. "In my community when we pray for someone's parnassah or shidduch, we use their father's name, that's the way we've always done it")

If that grows tiring, you could consider moving to Israel, which has a slight Sephardic majority, and where people are quite aware that different communities have different minhagim. According to the Ramban, all Jews are d'orayta required to live in Israel as soon as it's safe to do so, and most would argue that's been the case since at least 1967.

Concerning your later points- everyone (for better or worse) adopted Western dress when the State of Israel was founded. For the non-religious, that means jeans and t-shirts, and for the religious, that means Ashkenazi religious garb. It is a bit jarring to see, absolutely. But it's been a social convention for decades now and given how change-resistant religious Israeli society is, it seems unlikely to change. Incidentally, with the exception of the Gulf States this same process occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa- from Morrocco to Iran, the urban population wears Western garb exclusively.

Regarding the kidnapped Temani children and the Aleppo codex- the actions of the Israeli government are another category entirely, and are not to be judged within the context you're asking about here

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    +1 Excellent point on the Western clothes. The truth is that it is a Western mindset that Eastern clothes are strange, because it is a universal mindset that anything different is strange. Strange may also mean cool, unique or whatever, but in this case, ever since Europeans became a dominant cultural force in the region in the 19th century, the Western mindset has plowed through everything else. Good or bad, I'm not sure there's much to do right now, so long the West still flouts cultural dominance around here. B"H one day we'll come to our senses and grasp things with different proportions.
    – Harel13
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 6:32
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    I was praying for years in a Lebanese schul (following my own nusach), and a prominent member of the community had a similar German name. When I asked about it, he also said that his ancestor moved and got married there. BTW, it was a fantastic congregation, and they never complained about my customs, and of course also I avoided disturbing them. Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 6:55
  • Great story, @Kazi. Incidentally, most religious Israelis are completely unaware that there were (and are!) significant numbers of Sephardi Hungarian Jews Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 7:53

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