Shelomo Alfassa is from a family of Ladino speaking Spanish Jews from Ottoman Turkey and the island of Rhodes. His family roots are among the musta'arabi traditions from Al-Andalus (Jews from pre-Christian Spain) as well as North Africa. The traditional minhag of his family was one based on roots in Andalusian Judaism and steeped in the Geonic tradition; this is a God-fearing tradition based upon rationality, respect and intellectualism, as practiced by Jews such as Maimonides.
He is a writer, author, editor, curator and historian of the Jewish world, whose studies have focused on Iberian and Ottoman Jewish history, culture and halakha (Jewish law) for over 25 years. Over the last 2 decades, Shelomo has lectured on these and other subjects in Boston, Denver, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Palm Beach, Princeton, Washington D.C. and Jerusalem.
Shelomo attended college in California, Florida, and New York City; and Yeshiva (Rabbinical School) in Jerusalem. His interests include halakha (Jewish religious law), world history, Colonial American history, geography, politics (and the media), English, biology, paleontology, geology and pretty much everything else at some level. Oh, and cooking!
Professional Bio for his Work with Sephardic History
Shelomo Alfassa is a well known international Sephardic advocate. His is the past Director of Special Projects for the American Sephardi Federartion. Mr. Alfassa has worked on several Jewish cultural exhibitions, this includes developing and curating several of his own
, at the Center for Jewish History (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) in New York City: Jerusalem and the Jews of Spain: Longing and Reality [in 2009] and Looking Back: Jewish Life in Morocco [in 2010]. Both of these exhibitions received the support of the New York Council for the Humanities and opened to a reception of several hundred persons respectively.
Mr. Alfassa is a consultant to the Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Culture Research Center in Istanbul and was the former Executive Director of the International Sephardic Leadership Council in New York. He served as former Director of Research and Development for Sephardic House in New York City and for four years he served as a vice-president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture. He was a staff consultant to both the Sephardic Educational Center and the Shehebar Sephardic Center (Midrash Sefaradi) in Jerusalem. He is a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
In 2003, Mr. Alfassa traveled to Poland representing American Jews in the United States as part of Judéo-Espagnol A Auschwitz, a multi-national campaign that sought-and received-recognition for Turkish/Greek and Balkan Holocaust victims that perished at Auschwitz. In 2006, he successfully worked with the U.S. Congress to bring about greater representation for Sephardic victims of the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and was the inital consultant for Sephardic Jewry at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.
From 2006-2009 he was U.S. Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) and was involved full-time in Track-II diplomacy. There, he successfully helped promote
H.Res.185, an historic resolution
recognizing rights of Jews displaced from Arab countries which was unanimously approved by the U.S. Congress.
Mr. Alfassá was the editor-in-chief of the award winning International Sephardic Journal and his essays and papers on Jewish history and politics have appeared in numerous media outlets. His
include Ethnic Sephardic Jews in the Medical Literature, (2005); Reference Guide to the Nazis and Arabs During the Holocaust, (2006); A Window Into Old Jerusalem, (2007); History, Politics & Loss, (2008); The Palm Tree of Deborah; (2009); The Sephardic Anousim, (2010); Eclectic Miscellany (2011); and Shameful Behavior: Bulgaria and the Holocaust. (2011). His book The Sephardic Anousim is the first book ever written on the history of forcibly converted Jews of Iberia--from a Jewish religious law perspective.
Mr. Alfassa lives in New York City, home to the largest religious Sephardic community outside of Jerusalem. There, some 75,000 Syrian, Egyptian, and Lebanese Jews live among smaller pockets of Moroccan, Turkish, Iraqi and other Jews.