More than 100 people attended a special dedication ceremony for the Sephardic Beth Midrash — Midrash Doresh Tov at the Moriah School in Englewood last Sunday.
Last year, Moriah parents Daniel and Lindsay Setton spoke to Moriah leadership about creating a center for Sephardic culture within the school; less than a year later, Midrash Doresh Tov was created. It is a permanent space for all students, regardless of background, to come together to learn about Sephardic Jewish culture. “I firmly believe that in this day and age it is vital for all Jews, regardless of background, to consider themselves as one” Zvi Rudman, the school board’s chairman, said. “The establishment of the Sephardic beth midrash solidifies Moriah’s commitment to this goal.”
“There are so many reasons why the construction of a Sephardic beth midrash was such a special project for our school and our community,” school president Aaron Yunis said during his remarks to the crowd. “The main reason is that it was supported by the vision and contributions of many families — especially the Setton and Bousbib families — who worked to integrate Sephardic culture into our school, rather than separate it.
“Moreover, a focal point of the project is the ner tamid, dedicated in memory of Evan Levy, z”l, whose untimely passing had a profound effect on our entire community,” he added. “The outpouring of support to memorialize Evan in this way was overwhelming.” A grassroots fundraising campaign was started as a small initiative. It grew to 60 families donating a total of $75,000 to the cause.
“Working with Lindsay and Daniel Setton on the beth midrash was inspiring” Erik Kessler, Moriah’s executive director, said. “Their attention to detail on each aspect of the room was remarkable; they cared about how the students, teachers, and administrators would use the space for years to come. They wanted the space to not only inspire our students but to motivate them in their learning and tefillot.”
The Moriah Sephardic minyan moved into the new beth midrash this school year. For the inaugural tefillah, more than 40 students and parents, both Sephardi and Askenazi, joined the minyan supervised by Rabbi Mordy Kuessous, the director of the Moriah Sephardic cultural program. The minyan allows students to experience Sephardic customs, such as the tradition of reciting the Birkat Kohanim daily.