First i read what all the other definitions for Syrian Jew on this web site, and as a "SY" i have been teribly offended, and if it would have been written by a non jew their would have been outcrys of anti sematism, i dont care if you had a bad experience with a couple of Syrians to blatantly sterotype is just wrong, we are all one Jewish nation we should all get along and not fight amongst each other. Anyway hear is some REAL info on our community.
Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: those who inhabited the region of today's Syria from the ancient times and those Sephardim who fled to Syria after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492 CE). There were large communities in Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut for centuries, and a smaller community in Qamishli. In the early twentieth century a large percentage of Syrian Jews emigrated to the U.S., Central and South America and Israel. Today there are almost no Jews left in Syria. The largest Syrian-Jewish community is located in Brooklyn, New York, and estimated at 40,000.
There have been Jews in Syria since ancient times: according to legend, since the time of King David, and certainly since early Roman times. A further group arrived following the expulsion from Spain, and quickly took a leading position in the community. Still later, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some Jews from Italy and elsewhere, known as Señores Francos, settled in Syria for trading reasons, while retaining their European nationalities.
In the nineteenth century the commercial importance of Aleppo and Damascus underwent a marked decline, and many families left Syria for Egypt. Beginning around 1850, and with increasing frequency until the First World War, Jews left Syria and Egypt for western countries, mainly Great Britain, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. This pattern of migration largely followed the fortunes of the cotton trade, in which many Syrian Jews were engaged.
Beginning in 1991, the remnants of the Damascus Jewish community (Arabic Yehud ash-Sham) were permitted under the regime of Hafez al-Assad to leave Syria for the United States provided they did not emigrate to Israel. Within a few months, thousands of Syrian Jews made their way to Brooklyn with the help of philanthropic leaders of the Syrian Jewish community.
Present-day New York Community
Syrian Jews first immigrated to New York around 1908. Initially they lived on the Lower East Side; later settlements were in Bensonhurst and Ocean Parkway in Flatbush, Brooklyn, this last being the current centre of the community. The community was formerly centered on the "Magen David" synagogue; today the leading synagogue is "Shaare Zion" on Ocean Parkway. Other synagogues are:
"Beth Torah" on Ocean Parkway, for the group that lived outside the main pocket of residence
"Sephardic Synagogue" under the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Shamah
"Ahi Ezer" and "Shevet Achim" for Jews originating in Damascus
"Bnei Yitzhaq" Sephardic Synagogue
"B'nai Yosef Synagogue"
"Ahaba Ve Ahva", for Egyptian Jews
"Har Halebanon" and "Sephardic Lebanese Congregation", for Lebanese Jews
Congregation "Ateret Torah", for the more Haredi Syrian Jews (known to mainstream Syrians as "black-hats")
"Magen David of Union Square", in downtown Manhattan
"Safra synagogue of New York" in Manhattan 62nd Street
There is also a Sephardic Community Center.
The community is mainly based in Brooklyn, NY and Deal, New Jersey and boasts of financial and commercial success. This is the culmination of hard work and immigrant connections formed in the early 1900's. Additionally, it is related to multi-generational businesses; children are encouraged to stay within the family business. Those who pursue higher education are encouraged to remain within the familial structure. A common phenomenon is the lack of liberal arts or non-career-driven degrees.
Main article: Pizmonim
Syrian Jews have a large repertoire of hymns, sung on social and ceremonial occasions such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Pizmonim are also used in the prayers of Sabbath and holidays. Some of these are ancient and others were composed more recently as adaptations of popular Arabic songs; sometimes they are written or commissioned for particular occasions, and contain coded allusions to the name of the person honoured. There is a standard Pizmonim book called "Shir uShbaha Hallel veZimrah", in which the hymns are classified according to the musical mode (maqam) to which the melody belongs. As time passes and more and more pizmonim are getting lost, efforts are being made by the Sephardic Pizmonim Project to preserve as many pizmonim as possible.
Attitude Toward Conversion
In the early twentieth century the Syrian Jewish communities of New York and Buenos Aires adopted rulings designed to discourage intermarriage. The communities would not carry out conversions to Judaism; they would not recognise the conversions of other communities or admit converts to join Syrian synagogues; marriages between Syrian Jews and converts would not be recognised, and the children of such marriages would not be allowed to join the Syrian community.
Hacham Uzziel, then Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, was asked to rule on the validity of this ban. He acknowledged the right of the community to refuse to carry out conversions and to regard as invalid conversions carried out by other communities in which marriage is a factor. At the same time he cautioned that persons converted out of genuine conviction and recognised by established rabbinic authorities should not be regarded as non-Jews, even if they were not allowed to join the Syrian community.