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Murray Mizrachi, 28

Murray Mizrachi, 28

A Sephardic Voice

For several years, starting in college, Mizrachi served as a volunteer with the Sephardic Community Alliance, an independent, Brooklyn-based umbrella organization that sponsors a wide variety of programs for the borough’s growing Sephardic community, most with roots in the Middle East and North Africa. Among his chief responsibilities was editing Qol Ha’Qahal (Voice of the Community), the SCA magazine.

Three years ago Mizrachi was asked to become the organization’s leader. He accepted the offer.

“I care about the community,” says Mizrachi, whose family came to the United States from Syria before World War I. He grew up in a Sephardic household, praying in the Sephardic nusach, eating traditional Sephardic foods, speaking a little Arabic.

At SCA, a “values-based organization,” his job is to help strengthen those Sephardic traditions and pass them on to the next generation.

“Our mission,” according to the SCA website, is to “preserve the traditional Sephardic way of life of our ancestors.”

Sephardic Jews here, while not all strictly Orthodox, tend to observe more religious traditions than their Ashkenazic peers; the Sephardic community does not recognize the division between Orthodox and non-Orthodox.

Mizrachi is studying for his Ph.D. in Jewish studies at Chicago’s Spertus Institute and Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. His duties: advocating for SCA’s 30 member synagogues, schools and other institutions; coordinating a scholar-in-residence program and a speakers series that features people from the local community and prominent outsiders like Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of England; coordinating a women’s learning program; developing a leadership training program; and encouraging eligible young people to sign up for Birthright Israel.

Now, some 250 members of his Sephardic community take part in Birthright and a Project Beyond opportunity to extend the original 10-day program each year, says Mizrachi, who has led several Birthright trips. Before, the number was “significantly less.”

WZC Delegate: Mizrachi served as a Likud representative at the World Zionist Congress, the international plenary of the World Zionist Organization, in Jerusalem last year. He was one of the youngest delegates. “It was very exciting to meet other young leaders,” he says.

Big Brother: For two years he participated in the Big Brother Program of the Sephardic Bikur Cholim, mentoring young people from underprivileged backgrounds, and some with autism, once a week.


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