Fans of Jewish Matchmaking are getting quite the Jewish education as the show goes deep into cultural and religious differences. With Jews of every age, color, background and culture it’s no wonder Aleeza Ben Shalom has trouble matching her clients. While we had plenty of questions about caste and religion on Indian Matchmaking, Jewish Matchmaking is arousing similar curiosity. Part of the criticism from the Jewish community is that lack of Judaism being explained to the audience. One big difference that is standing out is the relationship between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. We saw the ups and downs of this sort of relationship in the drama between Dani Bergman and David Behar. These two groups of Jews have a lot in common but also have many differences to overcome. Let’s look at the difference between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews, the main differences.
Jewish Matchmaking:Sephardi and Ashkenazi Main Differences – A Long History
Because these terms date back several centuries, they can be confusing and sometimes inaccurately applied. For example, there are some Sephardi Jews who are also called Mizrachi Jews. “Sephardi” comes from the Hebrew word “Sfarad” which means “Spain,” but it also refers to Jews from Portugal. When these two countries expelled Jews in the 1,400s, many of them travelled and settled in Middle Eastern, North African, and Asian countries. This is why David is a Sephardi Jew who is described as “Cuban-Turkish” at some points. A Sephardic Jew often hail from Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, or Greece, but many other countries, too.
Ashkenazic Jews have a much longer history in North America and have more Central or Western European origins. Ashkenazi Jews often have roots in Germany, Poland, Hungary, or Russia. Apparently, “Ashkenaz” is an early Hebrew word for Germany. The American-born Jews we see in Fay Brezel’s Brooklyn neighborhood are Ashkenazi, as are Aleeza, Stuart Chaseman, and Noah Dreyfuss. It’s not safe to assume that light skinned Jews are Ashkenazi, though. There are also Jews from South America, Ethiopia, India and even China who don’t fit into either of these groups, too.
Jewish Matchmaking: Sephardi and Ashkenazi Main Differences – Food, Faith, and Language
The kinds of food that you probably think of when you think of “Jewish food” are probably Ashkenazi. Bagels, gefilte fish, blintzes, latkes, and cholent, which Noah Dreyfuss talks about, are Ashkenazi staples. But fans of Love Is Blind Season 3 will remember a very important Sephardic food – shakshuka. This is what brought Brennon Lemieux and Alexa Alfia together in the pods. Sephardic Jewish food is hot, spicy and savory. Sephardic Jews also have slightly different Kosher laws as well. They can eat rice and corn on the holiday of Passover, where grain-based carbs are usually off the menu.
We don’t see it on the show, but fans of Indian Matchmaking might be interested to know that Sephardic women get henna before marriage. This reddish dye is common in South Asian and Muslim cultures. You may also have seen Jewish women wearing jewelry or pendants that depict a hand with an open eye on the palm. Whether they know it or not, this is a Sephardic custom picked up from Jewish living in Muslim countries. The hand is called the hamsa or khamsa, and can be found in Muslim areas of India and Pakistan as well.
Finally, you may be using Yiddish words without even knowing it. If you’ve ever shmoozed (chatted), been called a goy (a person who is not Jewish), or said Mazel Tov, those are Yiddish words. Yiddish is an Ashkenazi language, blending German with Hebrew. But Sephardis are known for speaking Ladino, which is Hebrew mixed with Spanish, and some Arabic and Turkish thrown in.