Rabbis listed in alphabetical order


Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie

Rabbi Elie Abadie comes from a long and distinguished rabbinical lineage dating back to fifteenth century Spain and Provence. Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and later Provence, his family migrated throughout the ages through Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon.

Rabbi Abadie was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and grew up in Mexico City, coming to the United States to attend Yeshiva University. Rabbi Abadie is the founding rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue. He is also the Director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University and is a scholar and college teacher of Sephardic Judaism, history, philosophy, and comparative traditional law.

Rabbi Abadie follows in the footsteps of the greatest Jewish scholar and philosopher Moses Maimonides, as he is both a rabbi and a physician. Rabbi Abadie maintains a practice in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

Rabbi Hayyim Angel

Rabbi Hayyim Angel is the National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. He teaches advanced Tanakh courses to undergraduates and rabbinical students at Yeshiva University, and lectures widely. He has published over 100 scholarly articles, primarily in Tanakh, and is author or editor of ten books, most recently Vision from the Prophet and Counsel from the Elders: A Survey of Nevi'im and Ketuvim (OU Press, 2013). He previously served for seventeen years as Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel of New York. He lives in New York with his wife and twin daughters.


Rabbi Simon Benzaquen

Rabbi Simon Benzaquen was born in Mellila in Spanish Morocco in North Africa. He studied at Yeshivat Netzah Israel in England, then moved to London to continue his studies at Etz Hayim Yeshiva, after which he accepted the position of assistant minister to the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregations in Essex, England where Rabbi Benzaquen served for ten years.

During the first two of his years in his position in Essex, he also attended the Jewish College University with an emphasis on cantorial liturgy for Hazzanut. Rabbi Benzaquen earned his BA in Jewish studies at Jews’ College in London and graduated with Honors issued by the National Council for Academic Awards of England. At the same time he also studied for his rabbinical diploma, which he received from the Rabbinical Academy of Marseilles, France.

While living in London Rabbi Benzaquen met and married his wife, Cecilia Margulies. Their first three children, Jonathan, Tanya and Anna Aliza, were born there. Later, the family moved to Maracaibo, Venezuela, where Rabbi Benzaquen held the position of rabbi and spiritual leader. Rabbi Benzaquen also served the Sephardic and Ashkenazi amalgamated community for five years.

Rabbi Benzaquen and his family remained in Venezuela until he received a call from Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation in Seattle, Washington asking him to serve as their rabbi. He arrived with his family in 1984 and took the position upon the retirement of Rabbi Solomon Maimon.

In 1987 he served as co-chair of the board of Rabbis for the American Sephardi Federation with Rabbi Marc Angel of New York City. Rabbi Benzaquen was appointed Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America in 1992 and in 1993. Rabbi Benzaquen is also a member of the Executive Council of Sephardic Rabbis of the USA and Canada.

Rabbi Benzaquen is a Mohel, a Sofer for Sifrai Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzahs and is a noted artist for his unique style of calligraphy of painted and decorated Ketuboth (marriage contracts). In late 2003, Rabbi Benzaquen became certified by the Jerusalem rabbinate as a dayan (judge) for arranging gittin (divorces).


Rabbi David Bassous

Rabbi David Bassous has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Ahaim since August, 1991. Prior to that, he was the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Hamidrash in Vancouver, Canada from 1986 until 1991. He received his semikha from the Shehebar Sephardic Center (Midrash Sepharadi) in Jerusalem as well as passing the exams of the Israel Chief Rabbinate. From there, he went to Vancouver where he instituted daily minyanim and adult education classes. Rabbi Bassous is also a mohel, sofer and shohet.

Under Rabbi Bassous’s leadership, Congregation Etz Ahaim has grown substantially. He has instituted three daily services, as well as several classes for adults. Rabbi Bassous has also co-founded Ben Porat Yosef, The Sephardic Yeshiva of Bergen County. Ben Porat Yosef is the only Sephardic Yeshiva serving Central and Northern New Jersey and Manhattan.

Rabbi Bassous presently serves as the Early Chidlhood Judaic Director at Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn, NY.

Rabbi Joseph J. Beyda

Rabbi Joseph J. Beyda is a teacher at the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School where he serves as both Senior Grade Advisor and Israel Guidance Counselor. He is also an Associate Rabbi at Congregation Bnei Yitzhak in Brooklyn, NY. Rabbi Beyda is currently pursuing a doctorate at Spertus Institute’s DJS program.


Rabbi Yosef Bitton

Rabbi Yosef Bitton was born in Argentina in 1961. He pursued his religious studies at Yeshiva Midrash Sefaradi in the Old City of Jerusalem and received his rabbinic ordination from Israel’s Superior Rabbinate (Hekhal Shelomo) in 1985. He also received his Dayanut ordination in 1998 from leading Sephardic Rabbis in Israel, including Rabbi Obadiah Yosef. Rabbi Bitton studied at several respected universities as well, including Yeshiva University in New York and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bar Ilan University in Israel (Talmud, Hebrew language and Biblical studies) and studied for his Master of Arts degree in Judeo-Spanish literature at Ben Gurion University. In 2003 he started his studies for the Ph.D at the Graduate Department of Religion in Emory University, Atlanta.

Rabbi Bitton served as the rabbi of two large Sephardic congregations in Buenos Aires, Argentina until 1996. He then moved to Israel, taking with him 40 families from the Syrian congregation Agudat Dodim in Buenos Aires. After working for of few years in the Yeshiva Madait (Scientific Yeshiva) in Rishon LeTsion he was offered to move back to South America where he served as the Chief Rabbi of Uruguay for four years. In 2004, Rabbi Bitton moved to New York where he currently works for the Mashadi Jewish Community of Great Neck, a Persian congregation of more than a thousand families. Rabbi Bitton is fluent in three languages: Spanish, Hebrew and English. He has published several books and many articles. He has also directed several important community projects and created many workshops directed at audiences of various age groups and backgrounds.


Rabbi Dr.
Nathan Lopez Cardozo

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo is the Dean of The David Cardozo Academy. He is a prominent lecturer and author who is world renowned for his highly original insights into Judaism and his ability to communicate the relevance of Jewish values and practice in today’s complicated world.

A native of the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community of Holland who holds a doctorate in philosophy, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo received rabbinic ordination from the Gateshead Talmudic College and studied in Israel at the Institute for Higher Rabbinical Studies of Chief Rabbi Unterman and at the Mir Yeshiva.

In addition to teaching Jewish audiences, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo often lectures to non-Jewish groups, including Christian leaders, about comparative religion and the fundamentals of Judaism. A number of his many books and articles have been translated into several languages.

Mr. Jack Doueck

Mr. Jack Doueck graduated Yeshiva University in 1985 and went on to Bernard Revel Graduate School for an advanced degree in Jewish Philosophy.

His first book, "The Chesed Boomerang: How Acts of Kindness Enrich Our Lives" was published in 1998 and his second book: "Joseph: How One Man Can Make a Difference" was published in 2002. Both books sold out and were republished since. "Yom Teru’ah: The Shofar and its Meaning on Rosh Hashanah" is his third book and was published August, 2007. All proceeds from his books go to charity.

Professionally, Mr. Doueck is a principal and founder of Stillwater Capital Partners, Inc. Stillwater is a Registered Investment Advisory firm with clients around the world.

Jack is one of the founders of Sephardic Career Services, a non-profit organization which places hundreds of people each year in jobs. He has been a featured speaker at seminars across the country and at investment conferences around the world and lectures regularly in Bernard Baruch College. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors of several charitable organizations.

Jack lives in New York with his wife Jamie and their five children.


Rabbi Joseph Dweck

Rabbi Joseph Dweck has been the rabbi of Congregation Shaare Shalom in Brooklyn since 1999. He studied at Yeshiva Hazon Ovadia in Jerusalem. He received his semikha from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef under the auspices of the Sephardic Rabbinical College in Brooklyn, NY. He presently serves as the Judaic Studies Principal at Barkai Yeshiva in Brooklyn, NY.


Rabbi Raymond Harari

Rabbi Dr. Raymond Harari has been the rabbi of Kol Israel since 1998. Rabbi Harari and his wife, Vicky, are the proud parents of five and grandparents of four. Rabbi Harari received his semikhah from Yeshiva University in 1979. He also received a Masters Degree in Jewish Philosophy from Bernard Revel in 1979, and his PhD in Judaic Studies from New York University in 1995.

Before coming to Kol Israel, Rabbi Harari led B’nei Shaare Zion from 1980-1998. He has also been a teacher in the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School since 1980 and became the Rosh Yeshivah there in 2005. Since joining our community, Rabbi Harari has stressed community involvement in religious and social activities including daily shiurim, youth and family events, as well as Israeli awareness and support programs. His vision is for the synagogue to be a central place for all community members to embrace their Sephardic Jewish heritage and experience an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.

Mrs. Vivien Hidary

Mrs. Vivien Hidary has taught BJE review to youngsters in our community for 25 years. For the past five years, she has been teaching women’s classes in B’nei Yitzchak and Beth Torah. At Allegra Franco, Mrs. Hidary strives to give the students the tools to make their own discoveries within the text with which they will ultimately create their own unique lessons. This will enable them to be enthusiastic about the material they teach and transmit that enthusiasm to their students.

Rabbi Ezra Labaton

Rabbi Ezra Labaton has been the rabbi of Congregation Magen David of West Deal for 26 years. He received his semikha from Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik at Yeshiva University. He has completed his PhD thesis at Brandeis University in the field of biblical exegesis. He was a long-time student of Professor Nahum Sarna, who was recognized as one the world’s leading Bible scholars.

Mrs. Gitta Neufeld

Mrs. Gitta Neufeld started her education training as a graduate of the Bet Yakob Jerusalem Teacher Training Program. She then attended Queens College, where she received Bachelors and Masters degrees in language development and special education. She also attended Pace University and completed a Masters degree in School Administration. She is currently completing her doctorate in education administration, with a concentration in teacher leadership and training.

Mrs. Neufeld has over 30 years of experience in both yeshivah and public education. She has supervised, trained and mentored teachers across all content areas and grade levels. On occasion, she speaks for the Bikur Holim of Manhattan as well as Congregation Kahal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights. She also speaks for Torah U’Mesorah and Ohab Tzedek in Belle Harbor on a regular basis. She gives a weekly class at Beth Torah in Brooklyn, as well as at Knesseth Israel in Far Rockaway.

Mrs. Neufeld is the Director of Education at Allegra Franco Sephardic Women’s Teachers College which provides teacher training and adult education for woman of the Sephardic Syrian community.

Rabbi Haim Ovadia

Rabbi Ovadia was born in Israel, recieved his semikha from Midrash Sefaradi, served in the IDF, studied in Bar Ilan University for a BA in Judaic Studies, and then studied for an MA in Hebrew Literature in UCLA.Rabbi Ovadia then served in rabbinic and educational positions in Bogota, Colombia, Israel, Deal, Brooklyn and LA.

He is now the Rabbi of Congregation Magen David of Beverly Hills and Professor of Rabbinic Studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA. He also writes regularly for the Jewish Journal of Greater LA. His main fields of interest are Tanakh, Midrash, development of Halakha and the promotion of tolerant, non-judgmental judaism.

Rabbi Rami Ovadia

Rabbi Rami Ovadia lives in Hollywood, Florida and since 1995 has been an educator and director of Jewish studies for synagogues and institutions offering adult education, in addition to Middle and High school on subjects ranging from Halakha, Tanakh, Talmud, Jewish History, Religion, Philosophy, Judaism & America, Halakha & American Law, Geonic & Maimonidean Literature, Sephardic history and culture, Egyptology and the Bible, Torah and Science.

He has also been a guest lecturer through out communities in South Florida, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Mexico, and since 2002 has held part-time Rabbinic positions in South Florida.

Some of Rabbi Ovadia’s objectives are the dissemination of Jewish education to the wide spectrum of our community and how to be a Jew in modern times. Presenting Torah both traditionally and intellectually in general, and bringing to light Sephardic heritage, traditions, customs, history and mind set in particular. Exposing the rich Sephardic culture that is disappearing in our times and bringing back the pride of our ancestors who transmitted it through out generations. Focusing particularly on traditional texts and applying a critical approach to Biblical and Rabbinic texts, using the teachings and methodology of Sephardic Sages and scholars through out history and recent times.

Dr. David Pelcovitz

Dr. David Pelcovitz holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration where he is also the Special Assistant to the President. Serving for over two decades as Director of Psychology at North Shore University Hospital-NYU School of Medicine, and Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, at NYU School of Medicine, he has consulted extensively with the Jewish community in the United States, Europe and Israel on a wide range of issues facing children and adolescents.

Dr. Pelcovitz, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, has published and lectured extensively on a variety of topics related to education, parenting and child mental health. Areas of research and clinical specialty include family violence, the impact of domestic violence, stress management, transmitting values to children and adolescents and coping with trauma and loss. His most recent publication was "Balanced Parenting" a book he wrote, in collaboration with his father, on parenting from a Jewish perspective.


Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Sir Jonathan Henry Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue, the United Kingdom’s main body of Orthodox synagogues. His official title is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; (born 1948, London).


Rabbi Yaakob Savdie

Rabbi Yaakob Savdie has been a rabbi at Ahaba Ve Ahva of Ocean Parkway since 1999 and serves as a teacher of Gemara and Halakha at Magen David Yeshiva High School in Brooklyn, NY. He has been a close student of Rabbi Shimon Hai Alouf since his youth. He received his semikha from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef under the auspices of the Sephardic Rabbinical College in Brooklyn, NY.

Rabbi Harold Sutton

Rabbi Harold Sutton currently serves as Rabbi of Congregation Bnei Yisshaq and is the assistant Rosh Yeshiva of Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School as well as the Rosh Yeshiva of Sephardic Rabbinical College.

He received his Semikha from the Chief Rabbinate in Israel and Hakham Ovadia Yosef. He also received Semikha from Rabbi Meir Mazuz and Rabbi Shimon Hai Alouf. He received his Bachelors degree in Psychology. He started his Masters in Jewish Studies at NYU.

Professor Hayim Tawil

Professor Tawil is a semitics scholar in Yeshiva University and has published a new lexicon comparing the Akkadian, Aramaic and Hebrew languages. He was born in Jerusalem to Yemenite emigrants during World War Two. After completing his mandatory army service as a paratrooper in Golani’s famed 12th Battalion, Tawil began his studies at Hebrew University. After two years at Hebrew University, Tawil decided that in order to better pursue his area of interest, Assyriology, he moved to the United States, since no Assyriology department existed in Israel at that time.

One of Professor Tawil’s other major publications is Operation Esther, a book co-written with Steven Miodownik. The book, based on Tawil’s experience in securing the release of some 1200 Jews stranded in Yemen in 1991 is packed with as much suspense and drama as any best-selling novel.

In 1988, Professor Tawil was chosen as the chairman of the International Coalition for the Revival of the Jews of Yemen. He was soon charged by the State Department with spearheading the operation for the ultimate release of the Jews of Yemen using Track II diplomacy, by which civilians play the role of diplomats in ameliorating international situations.