Hamas War

Friday, March 4, 2016

Guest Post: Greek Jews Syrian Jews

* * * Greek NYC Jews and Syrian NYC Jews * * *

a short historical essay by Mr. Cohen,
the moderator of the Derech Emet Yahoo Group:
that teaches a big lesson about Jewish continuity.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Over the past 35 years, I noticed that the highest intermarriage rates [between Jews and non-Jews] are found in communities where Reform Judaism is most dominant, and the lowest intermarriage rates are found in communities where Reform Judaism does not exist.

Around the 1920s [of the Common Era], tens of thousands of Jews came from Greece to New York City, and tens of thousands of Jews came from Syria to New York City. 

In the 1920s, the numbers of Greek Jews and Syrian Jews in New York City were approximately equal.  Their observance of Jewish rituals was also approximately equal. 

Around that time, the Greek Jews of NYC decided to follow Reform Judaism, while the Syrian Jews followed Orthodox Judaism.

By the 1980s, the Greek Jews of NYC [and the USA] were so few in number that there was only ONE Greek Synagogue in NYC, and that ONE Greek Synagogue functioned mostly as a museum.  The very few Greek Jews of NYC were intermarrying with Gentiles at a very high rate, and very few participated in any kind Jewish activities.  One Greek Jew who I personally spoke to had decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day instead of Purim.

By the 1990s, the Syrian Jews of NYC had grown exponentially, with many new synagogues that did not exist in previous decades, and more-than-enough new Syrian Jews to fill those new synagogues with active members.  Their rate of intermarriage with non-Jews was LESS THAN ONE PERCENT [<1%].

By year 2015, the Greek Jews of NYC were so few in number that their community had basically ceased to exist.  They had no schools, and only that one synagogue which mostly functioned as a museum.

By year 2015, the Syrian Jews of NYC continued to grow rapidly, with less than 1% intermarriage and many new synagogues that did not exist in the 1990s. The number of schools run by-and-for Syrian Jews also increased dramatically.

The Syrian Jews of NYC also added new mikvahs to their infrastructure, while the Greek Jews of NYC had no mikvahs.

By year 2015 the Syrian Jews of NYC had two of their own monthly magazines, while the Greek Jews had none.

By year 2015 the Syrian Jews of NYC had produced dozens of Rabbis, while the Greek Jews had none.
In the early 1980s the Greek Jews still had their own social club, called The Pashas.
In 2017, I could not find The Pashas with Google, despite several attempts to search for keywords like “Pashas” and “Greek Jews”.  The Pashas seem to have vanished.

In dramatic contrast, the Sephardic Community Center (which is misnamed, because it is really the Syrian-Jewish Community Center) has often been filled to capacity or near-capacity since it was built in year 1982, which is impressive, when you consider the large size of the SCC building.

The Sephardic Bikur Cholim (which is misnamed, because it is really the Syrian-Jewish Bikur Cholim) is very active with many programs and its own building. The Greek Jews of NYC do not have their own Bikur Cholim organization.

Between 1980 and 2015, more than a dozen new siddurim and machzorim were published by Syrian Rabbis. Total number of Greek siddurim and machzorim published between 1950 and 2017: zero.


Initially, the only significant difference between the Greek Jews of NYC and the Syrian Jews of NYC was that the Greek Jews chose Reform Judaism while the Syrian Jews chose Orthodox Judaism.

Less than a century later, the Greeks Jews [of NYC], who chose Reform Judaism, have vanished; while the Syrian Jews [of NYC], who chose Orthodox Judaism, enjoy a rapidly-growing community and seem to have a bright future.

BOTTOM LINE: Reform Judaism causes entire communities of Jews to become extinct,
while Orthodox Judaism causes Jewish communities to grow rapidly.

PS: This short essay reveals a piece of Jewish History
which is known to only very few individuals.
Therefore, I feel it is my responsibility to publicize it,
before it becomes forgotten.

PS: The Persian Jewish community of NYC, which has never known Reform Judaism, also has an extremely low intermarriage rate.  While I do not have exact statistics for Persian Jews, their intermarriage rate seems to be so low that it cannot possibly threaten their future.

PS: The difference between Greeks Jews and Syrian Jews is also demonstrated by their Hollywood celebrity representatives:
Lea Michele [Sarfati] is an American vocalist and actress, famous for her starring role in GLEE.  Lea Michele’s father is [or was] a Greek Jew who converted to Christianity and married a non-Jewish wife [Lea Michele’s mother] and together they raised their non-Jewish daughter [Lea Michele] to be Catholic.
Paula Abdul, another famous Hollywood vocalist, is a Syrian Jew who lights Shabbat candles and helps Chabad.
PLEASE help the battle against
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PS: Please check-out these pro-Israel web sites:

How a Reform Rabbi Become Orthodox (true story):

Why Muslims Hate Jews:
Forgotten Oppression against Jews:
American anti-Semitism:
How to Convict the New York Times:
How to Pray for Tzahal-IDF:

Why Israel’s 1967 Borders are Undefendable:


Batya said...

Thanks for posting. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Have always had the greatest respect for the Syrian Jewish community. They are probably the most intact Jewish community of all. Intermarriage was always almost unheard of; they were even reluctant for their offspring to marry within the Ashkenazic community; today, that is not true and, fortunately, the east/west are intramarrying, as should be. We are one people. They are even reluctant to having conversions within their midst. A great yasher koach to them - true descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

Whereas, apparently, the Greek community has kept up with the same hellinization as their ancestors, r'l. Just by turning to the Reform, rather than true Judaism, shows their mindset.

HDG, Yerushalayim, E"Y Shlemah said...

Unfortunately, my mother was cut off from the Syrian community she was born into by well-meaning Ashkenazi social workers in the 1930s and given to a non-religious Ashkenazi family. Long story; but to make it short, she married a non-religious Ashkenazi and I am the result. So, what's a virtually infinitesimal percentage lost? It means a lot to me because I had a 100% chance of suffering the hardship it took me to return to Judaism at all, never mind the Syrian community; and, thankfully, I was still acceptable to return to our homeland. It's been even harder for my mother.

Note to Mr. Cohen: I just want to let you know that http://www.ArabsForIsrael.com doesn't work any longer. You might want to check out the links you post to make sure they all work. It's good that you spread them around.

And, if your family comes from Haifa and goes back at least as long as 1900CE there (and probably much longer than that), there's a chance I might be distantly related to you, sir.

Mr. Cohen said...

www.ArabsForIsrael.com had been replaced by:


Yakov Butterfield said...

Can I repost?

Mr. Cohen said...

OK, repost it, but I would appreciate
knowing where you reposted it to.