The Jews of Spain developed a distinct liturgical tradition and religious practices, the Minhag Sepharad, which they took with them when they were expelled. As the Sephardim were able to establish their own communities and assumed prominent roles in their adopted countries, the Spanish rite was preserved and even adopted by pre-existing communities. In the 19th century, Sephardic prayer books (Mahzorim) were printed and circulated in various local communities throughout the Ottoman Empire and thus furthered the predominance of the Sephardi rite in this region.

There are some specific Sephardi customs. Sephardi Jews often name their children after the children’s grandparents. A distinct script is used for Torah scrolls, and mezzuzot, decorative cases containing Torah verses, are placed on door frames vertically rather than at an angle. At the same time, however, Torah scrolls are very often kept in cylindrical casings as in the Romaniote tradition.

Photos 1, 2: © Nikos Stavroulakis: Sephardi and Romaniot Jewish Costumes in Greece and Turkey, 16 watercolours, Athens 1986.

Photo 3: © Nikos Stavroulakis

Photo 4
Source: public domain

19th century Sephardi dress from Thessaloniki

19th century Sephardi dress from Thessaloniki

Sephardi Hanukiah from Veroia, drawing Nikos Stavroulakis

Orden de Bendiciones (One Hundred Blessings) in Hebrew and Ladino, Amsterdam, 1687

Jewish Legacy in Hania Mobile App

Developed by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies
New Media Lab