Sephardic Heritage Foundation was founded in 1972 by Mr. Sam Catton a"h.
The most impactful projects usually start from a specific need and Sephardic Heritage Foundation is no different. Sephardic Heritage Foundation was born during the High Holidays in the early 1970's when Mr. Sam Catton a"h was praying in Shaare Zion Congregation, the main synagogue for Syrian Jewry outside of Syria. It was at that moment that he realized that the prayers were not as unified or cohesive as they could be or should be. There were several different prayer books being used by the Congregants and as a result people were confused as to what was being prayed and when. Mr. Catton realized that our Community needed a unified set of prayer books so that our prayers can elevate to the Almighty with one voice. Mr. Catton recruited Ezekiel Albeg to help him with this project and a short while later the Shelom Yerushalayim mahzorim for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were born. When interviewed later in life, Mr. Catton proudly exclaimed that the proudest and most fulfilled moment of his long and well accomplished life was the first Rosh Hashanah when he looked up from his seat in Shaare Zion and saw the entire kahal praying as one nation and with one voice to the Almighty on the holiest day of the year with every single person holding his brand new Shelom Yerushalayim mahzor for Rosh Hashanah.
This success fueled the next 35 years of growth for Sephardic Heritage Foundation with Mr. Sam Catton as it's leader and inspiration.
Mahzorim were developed for Passover, Shabuot and Sukkot. In the 1980s, Mr. Catton recruited Rabbi David Bitton a"h to spearhead a revolutionary project of a daily siddur specifically for the Syrian Community with prayers for weekdays and Shabbat. He approached the world-renowned banker and philanthropist Mr. Edmond Safra in regards to the project who immediately sponsored it in memory of his late father Jacob, and the daily prayer book was called Kol Yaakob in his memory. Another revolutionary project which was done by Mr. Catton and Hazzan Gabriel Shrem is Sir Ushbaha Hallel Vezimra Pizmonim book which preserved songs written and sung by the Syrian Jews for centuries.
There are several other publishing projects which Mr. Catton worked tirelessly on due to his love of world Jewry, The Syrian Community and their priceless traditions. These include a trilogy of books titled Men of Faith & Vision, authored by Mr. Catton which document the early years of the Syrian Community in New York. Upon his passing in 2006, his grandson David Catton took over as president of the Foundation and has moved it forward with new projects for daily prayers, Holiday prayers, a Humash Tiqun Qoreem based on Syrian tradition and books of reference on our Community customs. David also expanded outreach to other Syrian Communities throughout the world.
Sephardic Heritage Foundation books number in the dozens and are growing. They can be found throughout the entire globe. We are grateful to the Almighty for the opportunity and strength to preserve Syrian-Sephardic traditions through our publications and pray to Him that we can expand the Foundation, its projects and outreach for many years to come.