Sephardic Jews are descendants of Spanish Jews expelled by the rulers of Spain and Portugal in 1492. Many went to the Ottoman Empire and also came to the newly colonized Americas. Their customs and traditions differ from Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish. The Sephardim speak Ladino, a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew, and their cooking encompasses Mediterranean and Asian Jewish dishes.

Between 1890 and 1924, about 30,000 Sephardic Jews from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey immigrated to New York City. The majority came from Turkey and the Balkan countries and their mother tongue was Judeo-Spanish (Ladino).

The members of these groups found themselves in a more difficult position than other immigrants. Along with the usual problems faced by newcomers, Sephardic arrivals during this period suffered great discrimination from existing Jewish groups in America, many of whom refused to recognize the new generation of Sephardim as Jewish. Previous generations of Sephardic Jews found that they had little in common with the recent arrivals and dismissed them as "Orientals."

Although few in number, the newly arrived Sephardim needed to establish their own schools, synagogues and communal self help organizations, since they could not easily fit into existing institutions.
(Referenced from "La America" by Marc Angel)

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