THE SEPHARDIC POPULATION TODAY

Just as the children of Israel greatly multiplied in number during the time of their slavery in Egypt, the Diaspora of the Sephardic Jews also later increased in number. There are various estimations. The Israeli newspaper, 'Jerusalem Post', estimated in an article a few years ago that the number of Sephardic Jews in the Diaspora was 20 million! A phenomenal number. Where are these people, these Anusim (Heb.: forced ones), to be found nowadays? It is time for these secrets to be disclosed and for the open questions to be answered.

The South - Negev

The Old Testament Prophet Obadiah proclaimed (Obadiah1:20) that the southern territory of Israel will play a key role for the Sephardic Jews. They should occupy it. In the meantime, Spanish-speaking immigrants have settled in the middle of an apparent wilderness. Thanks to their endurance, creativity, and zeal for experimenting and for innovation, they are steadily managing to unearth the treasures of the arid sandy soil. The south constitutes approximately 60% (12,500 km2) of the state of Israel, and consists mostly of the sand and stone desert of the Negev. At the same time, this area is the least inhabited part of the country.

Only 7% of the total population of Israel lives here. The climate and biology are rich in contrast and are diverse. Water is a scarce and therefore precious commodity. This scarcity of water is a challenge for the people who have settled there, to find ways and means to survive.

The metropolis of Be'er Sheva, which is situated here, is developing into one of Israel's most modern research centers. It is here that Institutions like the Ben Gurion University, the Katz Institute and the Ben Gurion Heritage Center in Sde Boker are located, among others. Be'er Sheva means, 'Well of the Oath' or 'Seven Wells'. Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech here (Genesis 21: 29-32). There is plenty of space in the Negev for Sephardim returning home.

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Nowadays, a surprising number of Jews live in North, Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean, having no awareness of their true identity. However, many of them have recently been discovering that their real roots are not to be found in these countries, but in Israel. This has awakened an increasing desire in them to deal with their past.