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Records of the World Sephardi Federation

Identifier: ASF AR-6[a]

Scope and Content Note

The records of the WSF relate to the top tier of the WSF leadership, particularly during the period 1987-1990 when Lillian Shalom was the Vice-President responsible for public relations and Steven Shalom served as a Treasurer of the WSF. Both these individuals had close ties to the New York and U.S. communities, as well as to the American Sephardi Federation and this accounts for the presence of some of the documents in the collection. The Records of the WSF do not reflect the everyday administration of the main office of the World Sephardi Federation or of the American Friends of the World Sephardi Federation. After Steven Shalom resigned in 1990, the documents are less immediately connected with the actual steering of the WSF. The character of the collection changed at that point, and memos and reports sent to heads of the national branches and their executive directors became a more substantial part of the collection. Most of these materials are addressed to Leon Levy, the President of the American Sephardi Federation, who represented the ASF at the meetings of the WSF leaders. Some of the later memos and various announcements appear to have been dispatched routinely to the ASF office. There are no materials from the period before 1976.

Most of the documents deal with financial aspects of various projects of the WSF, such as the scholarships, which were intended for the training of rabbis for Sephardic communities in the Diaspora. Furthermore, the correspondence reflects transfers of financial subsidies from the WSF to its branches as well as a number of other organizational issues. The social, economic, and cultural conditions of the Sephardic population in Israel were of concern to the WSF leaders as well, and information on these topics is also contained in this collection.

Newspaper clippings covering mostly the WSF Congress in 1987, the underprivileged status of Sephardim in Israel, and the activities of Nessim Gaon are to be found in Series II, along with a number of interviews with WSF leaders. The newspaper clippings cover the period 1987-1991.


  • 1975-1998


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact

American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Historical Note

The World Sephardi Federation (WSF) was founded in 1925 at the international convention of Sephardi Jews held in Vienna, prior to the 14th Zionist Congress. The initiative behind its establishment came from the heads of the Sephardi and Oriental communities in Palestine, who, together with the heads of the Sephardi communities in the Balkan countries and central Europe, set up the World Union of Sephardi Jews. Moshe Pichotto was chosen as the first president of the union, whose center was set in Jerusalem. In a unanimous resolution, it was declared that the establishment of this union was essential for the Zionist movement, in order to build the land with the cooperation of all the Jewish communities.

In the decades following the founding of the organization the Federation attempted to represent the Sephardi communities within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, the Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod), in Palestine and later in Israel. The first conference of the WSF took place in Paris in November 1951. The delegates stressed the issues of housing, welfare, education, culture and Sephardi heritage. The WSF attempted to speak for Sephardic communities in North America, Central and South America, as well as European countries such as France, England, Italy and Spain.

The election of Nessim D. Gaon as President of the Federation in 1973 and Leon Tamman as Treasurer started a new era. In his journeys around the world, Nessim D. Gaon succeeded in instilling the idea of organizing the Sephardi communities in the world. In 1987, Nessim D. Gaon visited Sephardi communities in North and South America and in Europe with the purpose of bringing them closer to the World Sephardi Federation. This trip, dubbed the Sephardi Caravan, was relatively successful and attracted over 180 new members to the Board of Governors of the WSF. It concluded with a Congress of Sephardic communities in Jerusalem at the end of November 1987. The Federation brought involvement in all areas of Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora. In 1988 Steve Shalom became a Treasurer of the WSF and Lillian Shalom held the position of Vice-President responsible for Public Relations.

The World Sephardi Federation is represented in the Zionist institutions - the Zionist Congress, the Zionist General Council, the Zionist Executive, as well as the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress. Its main activities include scholarships for schoolchildren and students, loans to owners of small businesses, bar mitzvah celebrations for children from large and poor families, and partnerships with the Hebrew University in setting up and operating the Misgav Institute for Research into the Heritage of Spanish and Oriental Jewry. The body executing policy is the Executive, half of whose members are from Israel and half from the Diaspora.

The Sephardi Federation operated from the offices of the President, Mr. Nessim D. Gaon in Geneva since 1973. In 1994, the Presidium decided to transfer its secretariat to Jerusalem.

Source: Avi Shlush: Letter of Introduction. The World Sephardi Federation. Available on Accessed on November 11, 2002.


3.6 Linear Feet


These records reflect the activities of the World Sephardi Federation (WSF), an organization that sought to address the educational and social needs of the Sephardim both in Israel and the Diaspora. The collection is comprised mainly of memos, reports, correspondence, and newspaper clippings that document both the cultural traditions of the Sephardim in the Diaspora and their political and social standing in contemporary Israel. The collection is primarily in English, although it also contains memos and reports in French. In addition, some of the correspondence is occasionally in Spanish. The newspaper articles and clippings are in Hebrew or English.


The collection is arranged in two series.

  1. Series I: Administrative, 1975-1998
  2. Series II: Newspaper Clippings, 1987-1991

Related Material

The Records of the American Sephardi Federation administered by the archive of the ASF.

Guide to the Records of the World Sephardi Federation, 1975-1998 ASF AR-6
Processed by Stanislav Pejša
© 2002
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from wsf02-02.xml.

Revision Statements

  • March 2005.: Converted to ead 2002. Revised as wsf02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States