About

MISSION STATEMENT

The Sephardic Legacy Series Institute was founded in 2007 by Yehuda Azoulay for the purpose of educating and inspiring Sephardic Jews through knowledge about their heritage. The institute aspires to become the future home of publications, networking, lecture series, articles, documentary films, and other programs for English speaking Sephardic communities across the world. To that end, it seeks to pool intellectual resources by building a network of accomplished Sephardic scholars and educators to produce a large corpus of quality literature covering a wide range of topics relevant to Sephardic Jewry. One of the Institute’s current points of focus is the lives and legacies of leading Sephardic sages. It has already published several volumes of extensively-researched biographies, documenting the history and teachings of the spiritual pillars of Sephardic Jewry, preserving this crucial aspect of Sephardic history and allowing contemporary Jews to draw inspiration from these extraordinary figures. Mr. Azoulay has invested countless hours researching and writing the material, without remuneration, driven by a sincere, passionate desire to preserve Sephardic history and to connect contemporary Sephardic Jewry with their glorious past.

This ambitious undertaking was borne out of the realization that much of contemporary Sephardic Jewry is unacquainted with Sephardic history, literature and customs, and knows little about Sephardic Rabbis and their scholarly writings. The English-speaking Sephardic population is growing rapidly, along with its thirst for knowledge about Sephardic culture. The Sephardic Legacy Series Institute has therefore taken upon itself the mission to educate English-speaking Sephardic communities across North America and around the world about their roots and rich ancient heritage, thereby ensuring its preservation and transmission to future generations.

The Sephardic Legacy Series Institute represents the heritage of all Sephardim from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balkans, to the Jews of North Africa and Muslim lands including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Bukharian Jews, ensuring that the legacy of these ancient, glorious communities is preserved and cherished for generations to come.

Benefactors of the Institute’s projects are directly involved in this vital endeavor
to preserve Sephardic history, and to celebrate, honor and nurture the growth of Sephardic culture, traditions and heritage. With their assistance, the Sephardic Legacy Series Institute will continue producing the literature and educational programs that are needed to ensure the perpetuation of Sephardic Judaism.

Yehuda Azoulay, Founder

Yehuda (Allen) Azoulay is a young and passionate noted scholar, educator, author, activist, and entrepreneur. He is the Vice President & Head of Investor Relations for Concrete Mortgage Capital Inc. Currently he holds a Rabbinical Degree, a Bachelors of Talmudic Law, a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Arts, from Excelsior College and a Masters of Science degree from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. He is presently pursuing his Doctorate from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning, from the Northwestern University and receiving his Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies. Yehuda was the Vice-Principal of Torah High/NCSY in Toronto for the past four years, and later moved in to the field of finance and is Vice President & Head of Investor Relations for Concrete Mortgage Capital Inc. Furthermore, Yehuda is the founder of “Sephardic Legacy Series – Institute for Preserving Sephardic Heritage.” To date he has authored five books and published over thirty articles on Sephardic historical topics.

In November of 2013 Yehuda Azoulay initiated the “Inaugural Tribute Luncheon Honoring the Contributions of Sephardic Jewry in America” in United States Congress. In February 2015, for the first time in Canadian history, he headed a Sephardic National delegation to Ottawa where he met with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Followed by an exclusive delegation he led to Morocco, “North American Conference of Moroccan Jewry” – Continuing to further Judeo– Muslim Dialogue & Intercultural Relations, this past May 2016. In April 2015, the Canadian Jewish News selected Yehuda Azoulay as “24 Jews who are changing the world.” In summer of 2015 the Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel selected Yehuda as one of the thirty young professionals around the world who were deemed as national young Jewish leaders. This past September 2016 he was invited to join 20 Jewish leaders from around North America to lobby at U.S Congress for the Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment,Sanctions) Mission to Capitol Hill. Yehuda, always seeking to do more for others, lives in Toronto with his wife Rena, and three children, Esther, Yael, and Ovadia.

Mr. Joe Mansour, President

Joseph D. Mansour was born in Brooklyn and has been part of the Syrian-Sephardic community his entire life. After graduating from Yeshivah of Flatbush, Joe spent a year in Jerusalem studying at Beth Midrash L’Torah (BMT). On his return to the US he continued his studies in Brooklyn College. Since completing school, Joe has worked in the apparel business where he currently operates Peak Season, an innovative brand which specializes in manufacturing and marketing youth collegiate and sports apparel.

On his spare time, Joe has been heavily involved in enhancing Sephardic Heritage and Jewish Education. Since 2004 he has served as the official Secretary of the Executive Committee of Shaare Zion Congregation, the largest Sephardic Congregation in North America. It is there that he also serves as the chairman of the Young Adult and Youth Programs, initiating many new programs and projects catering to the younger generation.

Joe joins the Sephardic Legacy Series as a President and Project manager where he assists in new intitiatives, fundraising and as a contributing author. It is his goal to preserve and strengthen our rich Sephardic Heritage through various publications for future generations.

Joe lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.

Rafaella Levine, Chief Editor and Co-author

Rafaella Levine combines her skills as translator, editor, and writer for the benefit of Sephardic Legacy Series. She takes Yehuda’s research and turns it into the masterpieces that SLS publishes.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Judaic studies from Michlalah Jerusalem College and has resided in Jerusalem with her family ever since. She has translated books on diverse topics: mussar, Israeli law, and a novel, but now runs a boutique ghostwriting business.

Eric Benchetrit , Political Affairs Advisor

Eric Benchetrit is a financial services industry consultant, providing professional development training and mentoring and is considered by his peers as one of the most informed and knowledgeable authorities in his space. He provides financial advisors as well as their clients’ accountants and lawyers, with technical assistance and his opinions and expertise are regularly called on by life insurers and banks to assist in their product development, including sitting on their Advisory Boards. He’s worked at the head office of insurance companies at the wholesaling distribution level, been a faculty member and part-time Professor for Seneca College’s Financial Services Practitioner certification program, has lectured at prominent financial services industry events, been a guest on radio call-in programs, written articles in industry publications and been profiled in the Canadian Business Journal. He is a member of CALU (Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting), an industry political advocacy group, which maintains a constructive, consultative relationship with federal government representatives. He holds a Specialized Honours B.A. in Political Science from York University and is an active member of his community, volunteering his time with the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto’s Professional Advisory Committee, as Vice President of the Canadian Friends of Laniado Hospital, as a board member of the Sephardic Kehila Centre and Communaute Juive Marocaine de Toronto. He has also been a member of a political riding association and assisted MPs, MPPs and candidates in previous election campaigns. Eric has been active in assisting Sephardic Legacy Institute, raise the profile of the Sephardic Community as a vibrant, politically relevant, constituency in Canada and the United States. Eric is married with 2 children and resides in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Adam Ohayon

Dr. Adam Ohayon was born and raised in Toronto, Canada to a Moroccan father and mother from Fes and Tangier, respectively. After high school he attended Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion in Jerusalem where he not only engaged in Torah and halakhic studies, but was privileged to learn advanced Moroccan hazanut and minhagim under the direction of Rabbi Kefir Barukh Mevorakh Dadon. Upon his return from Yeshiva, he became co-founder and co-author of the Darké Abotenou Project with the sole purpose of disseminating Moroccan-Judeo laws and traditions through daily emails and a multi-volume work currently undergoing publication. Darké Abotenou also provides a media outlet for those seeking to learn Moroccan liturgy as well.

In 2008 he was awarded a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Psychology from York University. He eventually earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Toronto in 2013 where he graduated with Honours and served both as Graduating Class President and Academic Representative. Following his dental training he pursued advanced education in New Jersey and earned his General Practice Residency diploma from Newark Beth Israel Medical Centre.  He is currently pursuing a joint Master’s of Science Degree and Dental Specialty Certification in the field of Periodontology at the University of Toronto where he manages oral gum and bone disease both surgically and non-surgically. Dr Ohayon also works in Toronto’s only private dental emergency clinic and is also being certified in intravenous sedation to put his patients at ease during surgery.

Despite his academic and professional achievements, he has an affinity for studying Tora and has dedicated himself to learning and teaching Torah with a focus in Halakha and Gemara. He also serves as a hazan at Bet Yosef Sephardic Congregation in Toronto, as well as, internationally for the High Holidays. During Shabat and Holidays he has been delivering multiple lectures to his synagogue constituents on various topics for over ten years. Dr. Ohayon enjoys being involved in his community through various avenues and has recently been elected to the board of Abir Yaakov Congregation at the Sephardic Kehila Centre. He has also attended various Jewish enhancement trips including the Aish Hatorah Leadership Trip to enhance his leadership qualities. In 2013, the University of Toronto has also awarded Dr. Ohayon the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award for his efforts both on campus and in his community at large.

Dr. Ohayon is married to Esther Ohayon with whom he has three sons, Avraham, David and Yosef all of whom he dedicates most of his time now. He speaks English, Hebrew, and French.

 

Daniel Bayar

Daniel Bayar, 30, was born and raised in Los Angeles. Following high school, Daniel devoted three years to studying in yeshiva in Israel. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three daughters, and now enjoys learning in the community Kollel in addition to running a property management/real estate company. Having grandparents who immigrated from Turkey allowed Daniel to grow up in an environment enriched in Sephardic heritage. Daniel is proud to be a staunch supporter of the Sephardic Legacy Series, to preserve our ancestry through a Torah perspective. The first book of Sephardic Legacy Series, “A Legacy of Leaders, Volume One,” has been generously sponsored by the Bayar family. Daniel seeks to be continuously involved with Sephardic Legacy Series and assists in the growth of the institution for the benefit of Sephardic Jewry, Jewry as a whole, and non-Jews alike.

Leon Sakkal, Contributing Author

Leon Sakkal was born and raised within the vibrant  Syrian community where he attained a great pride for his Sephardic heritage.  After graduating Deal Yeshiva, Leon excelled in his studies at Yeshiva Mikdash  Melech of Yerushalayim for the two subsequent years. Later,  he returned to join “Beth Medrash of Long  Branch”, a new and vibrant Yeshiva headed by Rabbi Shlomo Diamond shlita, where he currently continues a full-day  of study. Leon’s goal is not merely to increase the awareness of  Sephardic hachamim, but to instill an overall motivating pride within Sephardic  Jews worldwide.

Ariel Picillo, Contributing Author

Ariel Picillo was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and attended Or Samea’h Yeshiva in Yerushalayim and Yechivat Ner Yosef before attending Yeshiva University in New York City. After studying Accounting and Information Studies for four years and earning a Bachelor of Science, he returned to Toronto to pursue a career and start a family. Throughout this time he worked tirelessly on a Moroccan Daily Halakha project based on the teachings and halakhic rulings of Moroccan Rabanim. Daily e-mails were sent to 4,500 subscribers in both English and French until these years of work culminated into an organized book on the subject, the likes of which the world has yet to see. This book is to be published, B”H, by Pesah of 2014 in conjunction with Sephardic Legacy Series and Israel Book Shop Publications. Today, the organization known as Darké Abotenou still sends periodic e-mails on pertinent topics in halakha as practiced by Moroccan Jews and archives them at www.darkeabotenou.com. These written traditions are complimented by an oral tradition received and recorded by Rabbi David Kadoch whose treasury can be found at www.youtube.com/darkeabotenou.

Rabbi Shai Cabessa, Contributing Author & Rabbinical Editor and Researcher

Rabbi Shai Cabessa was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. After graduating high school, Rabbi Cabessa continued his studies in Israel in Yeshivat Porat Yossef (in the Old City of Yerushalyaim) from 2007 to 2010. After getting married in 2010, he joined Kollel Neve David, institution for preparing future Rabbis and Dayanim, where he is currently learning. Rabbi Cabessa received his Rabbincal Smicha in numerous parts of Torah Law. Additionally, he won the “Ata Kitvuh La’chem 8” Award [also known as the Rabbi Ovadia Yossef Award] in late 2015, for writing one of the best Torah essays in Israel.

In 2014, Rabbi Cabessa published his first sefer “Bikureh Shai”. It contains halachic essays on all four parts of the Shulchan Aruch, and hidushim on Shas. He also recently completed writing a book in English containing all the Sephardic laws and customs of Mourning (Avelut). Additionally, Rabbi Cabessa was asked by the Rosh Avot Batei Hadin of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Barcuh Shragah shlit”a, to edit many of his rulings that were given in the Bet Din, and prepare them for publishing, along with his own additions to those rulings. This sefer was published in 2016 and called “Shu”t Baruch Omer.” Rabbi Cabessa also edited “Darke Abotenou”’s encyclopedic 3-volume work on Moroccan halacha and customs. He has also published many essays in numerous Torah journals, including: Toraat Hessed al Leshona (Tamuz 5773), Mishpat David (Elul 5775), Ner David (Tevet; Shevat; and Nissan 5776), Yated Hame’ir (Adar 1 5776), and Bet Yossef (Sivan 5776).

Rabbi Cabessa was hired in 2013 by the “Sephardic Legacy Series” as their main Rabbinical Editor and Researcher. Since then, he has edited 4 of their books: “A Legend of Greatness”, published in 2013; “The Legacy of Maran Hacham Ovadia Yosef”, published in 2013; “Mi’Mizrach Umi’Maarav”, published in 2013; and “Maran”, published in 2014.

Translations in other Languages:

French Edition – Editions Hinoukh Publishers translated ’A Legacy of Leaders Volume I’ – In Stores!

Hebrew Edition – Iris Meir translated ’A Legacy of Leaders Volume I’- . Coming Soon!

Spanish Edition – Ariel Entebi translated and published ‘A Legacy of Leaders Volume I, II and Ben Ish Hai  – In Stores!

Russian Edition –  ’A Legacy of Leaders Volume I’ –  Coming Soon October 2014!

Persian Edition –  ’A Legacy of Leaders Volume I’ – Development stages!