American Sephardi Federation
The American Sephardi Federation, a member of the Center for Jewish History, is a non-profit Jewish organization that strengthens and organizes the religious and cultural activities of Sephardic Jews, preserves Sephardic heritage, tradition and culture in the United States and assists in the publication of books and literature dealing with the Sephardic culture and tradition. The Federation is also active in issues related to Israel and the refugee status of Jews in the modern-day Middle East following the creation of Israel.
The Federation exists to organize and preserve Sephardic heritage, tradition and culture in the United States and the goal of its founding conference was to "dedicate itself to revitalize the Sephardi culture and heritage in the U.S. and to aid the underprivileged population of the State of Israel." The Federation's annual conferences, which also publish a number of reports about the work of the organization and issues related to Sephardic Jewry in the United States, is held in various locations throughout the United States and serves as a cultural reminder of the Middle East and African roots of the movement.
Its role in the Center for Jewish History is considered by some to be somewhat peculiar for a number of reasons, including its addition to the center four years after the Center's creation and its focus on Sephardic rather than Ashkenazi Judaism and its political nature due to the connections with the World Zionist Congress. In 2000, the Federation opened what was then the only dedicated Sephardic exhibition space in North America in the Center's new location.
One of the most important functions of the Federation is its role in the lives of Sephardic youth. The first National ASF Youth Convention was held in Atlanta in November 1973 and was attended by more than 450. The federation's youth education programs also help to ensure the continued growth and vibrancy of the Sephardic culture.
When the U.S. Senate began to look into the issue of Jews fleeing Arab areas in the Middle East, the Federation was involved with their research about the more than 800,000 Jews that chose to leave their homes at the time. In connection with a number of other groups worldwide, the Federation has been involved with efforts to obtain restitution for those affected.
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Although formed in 1952 as a branch of the World Sephardi Federation, the American Sephardi Federation remained relatively inactive until it was officially organized in 1973 after which it was established as a national organization. Some reports, however, cite the Federation's founding date as late as 1984.
In 2002, the Sephardic House, which had been sharing space with the Federation at the Center for Jewish History joined with the Federation. The two now operate as one under the name, the American Sephardi Federation with Sephardic House as a national Jewish organization with local chapters. It is dedicated to preserving the history, legacies and traditions of the great Sephardic communities throughout the world as an integral part of Jewish heritage.
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