Guide to the Records of the World Sephardi Federation,


Processed by Stanislav Pejša

American Sephardi Federation

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 548-4486



© 2002 American Sephardi Federation. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Stanislav Pejša as MS Word file wsfrecords.doc in November 2002 . Electronic finding aid converted to EAD 1.0 by Stanislav Pejša in November 2002. Description is in English.
March 2005. Converted to ead 2002. Revised as wsf02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.January 2006. Entities removed from EAD finding aid.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: World Sephardi Federation
Title: Records of the World Sephardi Federation
Abstract: These records reflect the activities of the World Sephardi Federation (WSF), an organization that sought to address the educational and social needs of the Sephardim both in Israel and the Diaspora. The collection is comprised mainly of memos, reports, correspondence, and newspaper clippings that document both the cultural traditions of the Sephardim in the Diaspora and their political and social standing in contemporary Israel. The collection is primarily in English, although it also contains memos and reports in French. In addition, some of the correspondence is occasionally in Spanish. The newspaper articles and clippings are in Hebrew or English.
Languages: The collection is in English, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 3.6 linear feet
Identification:ASF AR-6
Repository: American Sephardi Federation
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Historical Note

The World Sephardi Federation (WSF) was founded in 1925 at the international convention of Sephardi Jews held in Vienna, prior to the 14th Zionist Congress. The initiative behind its establishment came from the heads of the Sephardi and Oriental communities in Palestine, who, together with the heads of the Sephardi communities in the Balkan countries and central Europe, set up the World Union of Sephardi Jews. Moshe Pichotto was chosen as the first president of the union, whose center was set in Jerusalem. In a unanimous resolution, it was declared that the establishment of this union was essential for the Zionist movement, in order to build the land with the cooperation of all the Jewish communities.

In the decades following the founding of the organization the Federation attempted to represent the Sephardi communities within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, the Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod), in Palestine and later in Israel. The first conference of the WSF took place in Paris in November 1951. The delegates stressed the issues of housing, welfare, education, culture and Sephardi heritage. The WSF attempted to speak for Sephardic communities in North America, Central and South America, as well as European countries such as France, England, Italy and Spain.

The election of Nessim D. Gaon as President of the Federation in 1973 and Leon Tamman as Treasurer started a new era. In his journeys around the world, Nessim D. Gaon succeeded in instilling the idea of organizing the Sephardi communities in the world. In 1987, Nessim D. Gaon visited Sephardi communities in North and South America and in Europe with the purpose of bringing them closer to the World Sephardi Federation. This trip, dubbed the Sephardi Caravan, was relatively successful and attracted over 180 new members to the Board of Governors of the WSF. It concluded with a Congress of Sephardic communities in Jerusalem at the end of November 1987. The Federation brought involvement in all areas of Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora. In 1988 Steve Shalom became a Treasurer of the WSF and Lillian Shalom held the position of Vice-President responsible for Public Relations.

The World Sephardi Federation is represented in the Zionist institutions - the Zionist Congress, the Zionist General Council, the Zionist Executive, as well as the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress. Its main activities include scholarships for schoolchildren and students, loans to owners of small businesses, bar mitzvah celebrations for children from large and poor families, and partnerships with the Hebrew University in setting up and operating the Misgav Institute for Research into the Heritage of Spanish and Oriental Jewry. The body executing policy is the Executive, half of whose members are from Israel and half from the Diaspora.

The Sephardi Federation operated from the offices of the President, Mr. Nessim D. Gaon in Geneva since 1973. In 1994, the Presidium decided to transfer its secretariat to Jerusalem.

Source: Avi Shlush: Letter of Introduction. The World Sephardi Federation. Available on Accessed on November 11, 2002.

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Scope and Content Note

The records of the WSF relate to the top tier of the WSF leadership, particularly during the period 1987-1990 when Lillian Shalom was the Vice-President responsible for public relations and Steven Shalom served as a Treasurer of the WSF. Both these individuals had close ties to the New York and U.S. communities, as well as to the American Sephardi Federation and this accounts for the presence of some of the documents in the collection. The Records of the WSF do not reflect the everyday administration of the main office of the World Sephardi Federation or of the American Friends of the World Sephardi Federation. After Steven Shalom resigned in 1990, the documents are less immediately connected with the actual steering of the WSF. The character of the collection changed at that point, and memos and reports sent to heads of the national branches and their executive directors became a more substantial part of the collection. Most of these materials are addressed to Leon Levy, the President of the American Sephardi Federation, who represented the ASF at the meetings of the WSF leaders. Some of the later memos and various announcements appear to have been dispatched routinely to the ASF office. There are no materials from the period before 1976.

Most of the documents deal with financial aspects of various projects of the WSF, such as the scholarships, which were intended for the training of rabbis for Sephardic communities in the Diaspora. Furthermore, the correspondence reflects transfers of financial subsidies from the WSF to its branches as well as a number of other organizational issues. The social, economic, and cultural conditions of the Sephardic population in Israel were of concern to the WSF leaders as well, and information on these topics is also contained in this collection.

Newspaper clippings covering mostly the WSF Congress in 1987, the underprivileged status of Sephardim in Israel, and the activities of Nessim Gaon are to be found in Series II, along with a number of interviews with WSF leaders. The newspaper clippings cover the period 1987-1991.

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The collection is arranged in two series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact
American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Related Material

The Records of the American Sephardi Federation administered by the archive of the ASF.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Records of the World Sephardi Federation; box number; American Sephardi Federation.

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Access points

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Container List

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.


Series I: Administrative, 1975-1998

3 linear feet


Scope and Content:

Series I contains records from the period 1987-1998. Many of the materials relate to the activities of Steve Shalom, the Treasurer of the WSF, and Liliane Shalom who was the Vice-President responsible for public relations during the years 1987-1990. The material from the later period consists of memos and reports that were sent to heads of the national branches and their executive directors. Therefore most of the materials from the 1990s are addressed to Leon Levy, the President of the American Sephardi Federation.

The documents that were not originally filed in thematic folders are arranged chronologically under the heading Administrative Correspondence. The records that were filed together are usually labelled under their original title. There are several significant topics in the collection. One of them involved the effort on the part of the WSF to obtain Sephardic rabbis for the communities in the Diaspora. These rabbis, it was hoped, would receive their education from an institution firmly rooted in a Sephardic cultural environment and Sephardic intellectual tradition. The plan was to secure funds that would provide the necessary means for educating the new Sephardic rabbis for congregations outside of Israel, and to select institutions that would guarantee their education in an uncompromised Sephardic tradition. The files labelled Rabbinical Training cover this topic. The issue is also mentioned in the files that cover correspondence with the directors of those Sephardic educational institutions with whom the WSF negotiated, namely Sam Kassin, Joe Nessim and Shlomo Riskin.

The meeting of the newly recruited members of the Board of Governors which took place during the visit of Nessim Gaon to the Americas is well documented. It presents a glimpse of the prominent representatives of the Sephardic communities all over the world, but particularly in South America. The biographical files of the individual governors were supposed to be used for a publication that was intended to appear at the Congress of the World Sephardi Federation in Jerusalem, Israel in 1987. However, it seems that the booklet was not published in the proposed form, but rather in a more modest one. The booklet containing short biographies of the top leaders of the WSF, though not including all members of the Board of Governors as was originally planned, is part of the collection.

In addition, the social, educational, and cultural situation of the Sephardic population of Israel concerned the leaders of the WSF, as can be seen from the documents of the Social and Education Commissions. This issue often appears in the Administrative Correspondence files. Many of the documents in the collection are of a financial nature, since it was one of the major tasks of the WSF to fund projects that could ameliorate the position of Sephardim. Hence, the documents filed under the Presidium or the Executive (the main policy making and decision making bodies) often contain financial reports and deal with finances. This, in addition to the fact that Steven Shalom was Treasurer of the WSF for two years, explains the prominence of the documents produced by the Finance Commission.

The documents are mostly in English, some in French; Spanish and Hebrew are used occasionally.

Box TitleDate
1 Administrative Correspondence1982
1 Administrative Correspondence1984
1 Administrative Correspondence1986
1 Administrative Correspondence1987
1 Administrative Correspondence1988
1 Administrative Correspondence1989
1 Administrative Correspondence1990
1 Administrative Correspondence1991
1 Administrative Correspondence1992
1 Administrative Correspondence1993
1 Administrative Correspondence1994
1 Administrative Correspondence1995
1 Administrative Correspondence 1996
1 Administrative Correspondence 1997
1 Administrative Correspondence 1998
1 Amutah1989
1 Board of Governors - Biographies1986-1987
1 Board of Governors - Biographies1987
1 Board of Governors - Contributions1987-1988
1 Board of Governors - Inaugural Meeting1987
1 Board of Governors - Meeting1988
1 Board of Governors - Member List1989-1990
1 Board of Governors - Meetings1988
1 Board of Governors - Member List1989-1990
1 Board of Governors - Recruitment - Sephardi Caravan1987
1 Booklet1988?
1 Budget1983-1984
1 By-Laws1991
1 Canadian Sephardi Federation - Report on Activities1989-1990
1 Canadian Sephardi Federation - Financial Statement1987
1 Cohen, Richard - Public Relations Expenses1987-1988
1 Commission of Ten 1988
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation1978
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem1987-1988
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Financial Report1988
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Photos - Identified Photos1987
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Photos - Portraits1987
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Photos - Unidentified1987
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Photos - Unidentified1987
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Photos - Unidentified1987
1 Congress of World Sephardi Federation, Jerusalem - Program1987
Box TitleDate
2 Constitutionundated, 1988
2 Correspondence - Financial 1990
2 Correspondence - Gaon, Nessim 1988
2 Correspondence - Silvera, David1987-1990
2 Education Commission - Gaon, Solomon1989-1990
2 English Course for Knesset Members1990
2 Europe - WSF Branch 1988, 1989
2 Executive1986
2 Executive1990
2 Executive Committee 1995
2 Executive Directors 1991
2 Executive Directors 1992
2 Federatión Sefaradi Latinoamerica (FESELA)1988-1990
2 Federatión Sefaradi Latinoamerica (FESELA) - Activities 1990
2 Federatione Sefardita Italiana - Report on Activities1986
2 Finance Commission1986
2 Finance Commission1987
2 Finance Commission1988
2 Finance Commission1990
2 Finance Commission1991
2 Finance Commission1995
2 Finance Committee1994
2 Financial Statement1987-1988
2 Financial Statement1990
2 Financial Statement - Sephardi Communities Department World Zionist Federation1987-1988
2 France - WSF Branch1990
2 Gaon, Nessim - Biographical Interview1987?
2 Gaon, Nessim - Portraits - Negatives1979, 1987
2 Gaon, Nessim - Speeches1986-1990
2 Gaon, Solomon - Report on Sephard'92undated, 1988
2 Georgia (Republic) - WSF Branch1990-1991
2 Housing for Syrian Immigrants in Gilo1989
2 Israel Executive of the WSF - Report on Activities 1991
2 Kassin, Sam (Sephardic Study Center for Jewish History)1990
2 Levy, David - Visit to New York and Los Angeles - Press Releases 1989
2 List of Sephardi Synagogues, Organizations, Leaders in1990
2 Meeting with Shimon Peres1988
2 Meeting with Yitzak Shamir1988
2 Message of Peace of the World Sephardi Federation1987
2 Nasser, Albertoundated, 1988
2 Nessim, Joe (Sephardic Educational Center)1989-1990
2 Pagani, Herbert - Expenses1988
2 Plans for New WSF Leadership Structure1987-1988
2 Plans for Sephardi Caucus in Washington1990
2 Platform for Social Justice1988
2 Platform for Social Justice - Drafts1988
2 Potential Board of Governors Members1987-1988
Box TitleDate
3 Presidiumundated, 1977-1980
3 Presidium1988
3 Presidium1989
3 Presidium1990
3 Presidium1991
3 Presidium1992
3 Presidium1993
3 Presidium1998
3 Riskin, Shlomo (Ohr Torah)1989-1990
3 Rabbinical Training1987-1988
3 Rabbinical Training - Gaon, Solomon1988
3 Rabbinical Training - Kassin, Sam1988
3 Rabbinical Training - Riskin, Shlomo1987-1988
3 Rabbinical Training - Riskin, Shlomo - Photos1988
3 Rabbinical Training - Sephardic Educational Center 1987-1989
3 Report on Activities 1996
3 Report on Activities of the Sephardi Federation of Australia1987
3 Requests for Project Funding1989-1990
3 Restrictive Committee and Heads of Branches 1985-1987
3 Scholarships Awarded and Educational Programs1989-1990
3 Sephardi Communities Department World Zionist Federation - Correspondence1985-1990
3 Sephardi Communities Department World Zionist Federation - Correspondence 1991-1996
3 Sephardi Communities Department World Zionist Federation - Report on Activities1989-1990
3 Sephardi Communities Department World Zionist Federation - Structure of Funds1986
3 Sephardi House, Israel 1988-1990
3 Sephardi House, Israel - Recruitment1990
3 Sephardic Education1975-1981
3 Shalom, Steven - Resignation as Treasurer1990
3 Social Commission1986
3 Social Commission - Planned activities1989-1990
3 Social Commission - Planned activities1990-1991
3 World Jewish Congress - International Economic and Social Commission 1979-1980
3 World Jewish Congress - International Economic and Social Commission1979-1980
3 World Youth Convention, Israel1991
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Series II: Newspaper Clippings, 1987-1991

0.6 linear feet

Alphabetically and further chronologically by year.

Scope and Content:

This series contains numerous newspaper clippings that document the status of the Sephardim in Israel. They deal fundamentally with the state of Sephardic education, but also describe some of the WSF activities, including the WSF Congress in Jerusalem in December 1987. The interviews with WSF leaders and articles about them found in this series may also be of interest to the researcher.

Box TitleDate
4 Newspaper Clippings1987
4 Newspaper Clippings - Coverage of the World Sephardi Federation Congress1987
4 Newspaper Clippings1988
4 Newspaper Clippings1989
4 Newspaper Clippings1990
4 Newspaper Clippings1991
Box TitleDate
5 Sephardic Views International1988
5 Sephardic Views International1989
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