I’m listening to this lecture by Marc B. Shapiro for Torah in Motion. Apparently, the late Israeli sage Ovadiah Yosef did not come from a distinguished rabbinic family. He had two brothers who were not religious.
The Sephardim have few haredim (fervently religious). Sephardim tend to be traditional. They’re not schismatic like the Ashkenazim.
Ashkenazim have average IQs around 108, Sephardim around 97 and Mizrahim (Middle Eastern Jews) of around 92.
Marc: “When you see pictures of Rav [Yosef Shalom] Elyashiv [who didn’t remember the names of his children let alone grandchildren], he always looks dour. Despite learning all the time, Rav Yosef was a people person. He smiles, he jokes. There must be a thousand videos of him giving his trademark slap in the face. In the last video he gave, the Haaretz reporter gets the slap on the face.”
“He never acquired any non-Torah knowledge.”
“The story they tell about Rav Mordecai Eliyahu was that they were showing him around a museum in France and he asked, ‘Who is Napoleon?'”
“[Rav Yosef] knew the Tanach by heart (a common Sephardic custom)… Unless you learn it by 14, you won’t learn it.”
“It used to be that day schools wouldn’t hire [secular Jewish] teachers if they were inter-married. That day is long gone.”
It is against American law to refuse to hire teachers based on their religion so almost all Orthodox Jewish day schools hire secular Jews and non-Jews to teach secular subjects.