and Ashkenazim, Chassidim and Misnagdim
Like Jewish families in general, rabbinic families are to be found in
both Sefardi and Ashkenazi communities, and the Ashkenazim
were further divided according to their Chassidic or Misnagdic
affiliation. It is therefore important to understand some of the
implications of these subdivisions of the Jewish people.
If the terms Ashkenazim and Sefaradim are used in the
context of familial descent then they indicate origin from communities
which stemmed from either Europe or Spain, Mediterranean, "Arab"
The connotations in the State of Israel indicate the division of the
population into those of European origin (Ashkenazim) and those
from the Arab countries (Sefardim). The latter usage is not
strictly correct since the Jews of Iraq, and Persia were never in Spain
and are not strictly Sefardim, but are referred to as Mizrakhim
The terms "Sefarad" and "Ashkenaz,"
used in the context of synagogue practice, have no geographical
connection. Chassidic Jews use the form of prayer known as "Sefarad",
regardless of whether they lived in eastern or western Poland or any other
part of Europe. It depends on the context. Titles such as
"Congregation Anshei Sefarad" refer to the Nusakh
of prayer and not the descent of the congregants from Ashkenazim or
Sefaradim. Chassidim or people of Chassidic origin use a
prayer book which is Nusakh Sefarad. This is due to
religious reasons and not due to descent.
Ashkenazim may pray according to Nusakh Ashkenaz
if they are not of Chassidic affiliation or descent. Chassidim pray
according to Nusakh Sefarad, which can be further divided
into subgroups, notably Nusakh Ari used by Lubavitcher Chassidim.
Nusakh Ashkenaz also has subdivisions, principally customs of
Western Europe (German/French communities) and Eastern European Polish or
It should be noted that the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem (the
community prior to the Zionist period) was clearly divided into Sefaradim
and Ashkenazim. The latter were divided into Chassidim and Perushim
(i.e. non-Chassidim) and then further divided into Kolelim
according to city or region of origin.
Petah Tikva, Israel
1. Excerpted from: Freedman,
Chaim. Beit Rabbanan: Sources of Rabbinic Genealogy.
Petah Tikva, Israel: self-published, 2001. Used with