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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 13.2:
What are the differences between Sephardim and Ashkenazim?

Answer:

They came from different cultures, and so particular customs developed differently, such as details of the prayer service and permitted foods on Pesach. The Shulchan Aruch by R' Joseph Karo is the definitive Sephardic work on halacha, and R' Moshe Isserles later added glosses to describe Ashkenazi practice. Other works describe the customs and practices of particular communities.

Many of the customs (minhagim) are derived from the communities in which these groups arose. The customs of Ashkenazi Jews often resemble those of the Slavs and Germans, because the Ashkenazi Jews were concentrated in that region. Additional information may be found in Paul Wexler's book The Ashkenazic Jews by Slavica Publishers.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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