Skip to main content

Papers of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum

Identifier: ASF AR 55

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum are arranged in five series and include brochures, booklets, clippings, correspondence, notes, photographs, printed matter, reports, speeches, writings, memoirs, and materials which Joy Zacharia Appelbaum compiled over a thirty-six year period from 1975 to 2011.

The collection is composed largely of published materials (i.e., articles from magazines and newspapers) and attempts to document the efforts of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum to describe the Sephardic Jewish community which came to settle especially in the Ottoman Empire following their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th Century. There is an abundance of material describing the settlement of the Sephardim in various communities throughout the world.

The collection is divided into five series: Sephardim and their traditions; Spain, the Expulsion and the Quincentenary; Sephardim in the Diaspora; Sephardim in America; and the American Sephardi Federation and its affiliates. The records are arranged alphabetically by topic within each series. In some cases topics of different series overlap.

The central theme of this collection is the description of the Sephardim throughout the world, as they radiated out from the Iberian Peninsula and the Middle East. This collection depicts the history of the numerous Sephardic communities, as well as describing some of their significant traditions. Finally, this collection seeks to describe some of the activities of the American Sephardi Federation and similar American Sephardi organizations.


  • undated, 1888—2012
  • Majority of material found within 1974-2004


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic and Turkish.

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


Biographical Note

Joy Zacharia was born Dec. 4, 1937, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of Morris Isaac Zacharia (of Castoria, Greece) and Clara Telias (whose parents came from Tuscany and Izmir). Her paternal grandfather, Rabbi Isaac Menahem Zacharia, was Haham Bashi of Greek Macedonia with headquarters in Castoria. His wife, the Rubisa, was Estamou Mevorah Zacharia. Her maternal grandparents were Isaac Telias, of Izmir, Turkey and Anna Ouriel Telias of Tuscany, Italy. Anna’s grandfather, a member of the Pappo Family, was Chargé d'Affaires at the Austrian Consulate in Constantinople, where she was raised.

Joy attended Abraham Lincoln H.S. after her family moved to Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, from 1951 to 1955. Then, from 1955 to 1958, she earned a BA with Honors in Spanish at Brandeis University. While there she wrote a thesis entitled: A Study of the Castoriali (Ladino) Dialect, a grammar, dictionary and cultural dissertation that is cited in David Bunis' Sephardic Studies: a research bibliography (1981). From Brandeis, Joy went on to New York University, where she earned a dual MA in Spanish and Education during the years 1958-1959. In 1958 she was married, and she subsequently bore two children: David Appelbaum and Cara Kagan.

Following college, Joy became a prolific writer and editor, writing extensively about Jews in general and Sephardim in particular. In 1977, she published The History of the Jews of Teaneck (New Jersey). Then, in 1991 she wrote a dissertation entitled Growing up in a Polyglot Sephardic Home for the "Second International Sephardic Studies Conference of SUNY Binghamton and later published under the title From Iberia to Diaspora: Studies in Sephardic History and Culture (Brill, 1999). Between these two works, Joy wrote numerous articles for a wide variety of Jewish-American newspapers, including The Jewish Week, The Jewish Standard, The Cleveland Jewish News, and the Sephardic Home News. At the same time, she was employed for 18 years as a Secondary School teacher of Romance Languages (Spanish, French, and Italian) in the New York City and Bergen County, NJ public schools. Joy was Treasurer of the Teaneck Jewish Community Council (1983-1987) and was an active participant in its Holocaust programs. She also was employed for a time as the Executive Director of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), funding scholarships for Sephardim studying in Israel, as well as serving for several years (1988-1991) as the Director of Public Relations for the Brooklyn based Sephardic Home for the Aged. Finally, she participated actively in the American Sephardi Federation, and was one of the founding members of the American Association of Jewish friends of Turkey.

In 2010 Joy was invited by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to deliver a series of lectures to the docents and administrators connected with its Confino apartment. The Confinos came from Castoria, Greece, and her lectures dealt with Castoriali customs and Ladino dialect. (Coincidentally, one of the Confino women was godmother to her father, Morris I. Zacharia.)


9.5 Linear Feet (19 manuscript boxes)


The collection documents the work and correspondence of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum and reflects various aspects of her life, personal research and writings in the field of Sephardic Jewish culture and society, mainly as they made their way here in the United States. Collection consists in large part of a large array of newspaper and magazine articles describing Sephardic life in various areas of the world, and especially in the United States. An extensive portion of the collection examines the various customs and traditions found among the Sephardim, including customs for the Jewish Holidays (and especially Passover). The collection also includes a significant quantity of information about the American Sephardi Federation, focusing a great deal on its conventions and activities in the late 1980s to early 1990s. There is also a sizable amount of information about the Sephardic communities in the Ottoman regions of Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans, with a considerable amount of material that focuses on the Quincentennial celebrations held to commemorate the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.


This collection has been arranged topically into five series. The material located within each series were grouped together by subject and arranged in alphabetical order by folder title and then by chronology of the enclosed material. The description of each folder includes folder title and date.

  1. Series I: Sephardim and their Traditions
  2. Series II: Spain, the Expulsion and the Quincentenary
  3. Series III: Sephardim in the Diaspora
  4. Series IV: Sephardim in the Americas
  5. Series V: American Sephardi Federation and its affiliates

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated to the American Sephardi Federation on several instances ending in September, 2011 by Joy Zacharia Appelbaum.

Related Material

The American Sephardi Federation Archives and the Archives of the Quincentennial Foundation, also held by ASF.

Processing information

Processing the collection involved encapsulating photos in Mylar sleeves, photocopying of the most fragile newsprint and thermofaxes, re-boxing and re-foldering using acid-free archival supplies, removing rubber bands, staples, and paperclips (and other metal fasteners) where appropriate.

Guide to the Papers of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum, undated, 1888-2012 (bulk 1974-2004) ASF AR 55
Processed by Randall C. Belinfante
© April 2011.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Appelbaum.xml

Revision Statements

  • The finding aid was revised on March 30, 2012 to include changes to description and add item lists.: Added "undated" to unitdate field of collection and extended the date range to reflect the incorporation of new material.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States