Appelbaum, Joy Zacharia

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Joy Zacharia was born Dec. 4, 1937, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of Morris Isaac Zacharia (of Castoria, Greece) and Clara Telias (whose parents came from Tuscany and Izmir). Her paternal grandfather, Rabbi Isaac Menahem Zacharia, was Haham Bashi of Greek Macedonia with headquarters in Castoria. His wife, the Rubisa, was Estamou Mevorah Zacharia. Her maternal grandparents were Isaac Telias, of Izmir, Turkey and Anna Ouriel Telias of Tuscany, Italy. Anna’s grandfather, a member of the Pappo Family, was Chargé d'Affaires at the Austrian Consulate in Constantinople, where she was raised.

Joy attended Abraham Lincoln H.S. after her family moved to Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, from 1951 to 1955. Then, from 1955 to 1958, she earned a BA with Honors in Spanish at Brandeis University. While there she wrote a thesis entitled: A Study of the Castoriali (Ladino) Dialect, a grammar, dictionary and cultural dissertation that is cited in David Bunis' Sephardic Studies: a research bibliography (1981). From Brandeis, Joy went on to New York University, where she earned a dual MA in Spanish and Education during the years 1958-1959. In 1958 she was married, and she subsequently bore two children: David Appelbaum and Cara Kagan.

Following college, Joy became a prolific writer and editor, writing extensively about Jews in general and Sephardim in particular. In 1977, she published The History of the Jews of Teaneck (New Jersey) . Then, in 1991 she wrote a dissertation entitled Growing up in a Polyglot Sephardic Home for the "Second International Sephardic Studies Conference of SUNY Binghamton and later published under the title From Iberia to Diaspora: Studies in Sephardic History and Culture (Brill, 1999). Between these two works, Joy wrote numerous articles for a wide variety of Jewish-American newspapers, including The Jewish Week, The Jewish Standard, The Cleveland Jewish News, and the Sephardic Home News . At the same time, she was employed for 18 years as a Secondary School teacher of Romance Languages (Spanish, French, and Italian) in the New York City and Bergen County, NJ public schools. Joy was Treasurer of the Teaneck Jewish Community Council (1983-1987) and was an active participant in its Holocaust programs. She also was employed for a time as the Executive Director of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), funding scholarships for Sephardim studying in Israel, as well as serving for several years (1988-1991) as the Director of Public Relations for the Brooklyn based Sephardic Home for the Aged. Finally, she participated actively in the American Sephardi Federation, and was one of the founding members of the American Association of Jewish friends of Turkey.

In 2010 Joy was invited by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to deliver a series of lectures to the docents and administrators connected with its Confino apartment. The Confinos came from Castoria, Greece, and her lectures dealt with Castoriali customs and Ladino dialect. (Coincidentally, one of the Confino women was godmother to her father, Morris I. Zacharia.)

From the guide to the Papers of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum, undated, 1888-2012, (bulk 1974-2004), (American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Papers of Joy Zacharia Appelbaum, undated, 1888-2012, (bulk 1974-2004) American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Amateau, Albert J., 1889-1996 person
associatedWith American Association of Jewish Friends of Turkey corporateBody
associatedWith American Sephardi Federation corporateBody
associatedWith Angel, Marc person
associatedWith Congregation Shearith Israel (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dobrinsky, Herbert C. person
associatedWith Levy, Leon, 1923-2008 person
associatedWith Levy, Louis N. (Louis Nissim), 1918-1994 person
associatedWith Quincentennial Foundation of Istanbul corporateBody
associatedWith Sanua, Victor D. person
associatedWith Stillman, Yedida Kalfon, 1946-1998 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (NY)
United States
Middle East
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Balkan Peninsula


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