In Memory of Rabbi Dr. Masliah Asher (Prosper) Murciano, A”H
Rabbi M. Asher Murcianopassed away peacefully at home on May 8th. As the name “Murciano” indicates, the Rabbi was a descendant of Spanish-Jews from Murcia, Spain. Rabbi Masliah Asher (Prosper) Murciano was born in Tangier in 1924, just after it became the International City on the Strait of Gibraltar. By the time of his birth, his Spanish-speaking parents had already lost six children. Familiar with the biblical story of Samuel, they promised God that if they were fortunate to have another son, they would give him to the service of God. The young boy, Ijo Regalado, was given to Rabbis to train. Before his formal education began, he lived in synagogues, sleeping on benches, absorbing our rituals, melodies, and teachings. Formal education began at the Alliance IsraeliteUniverselleand the Rabbinical Seminary of Tangier.
As a teen, he was also trained as a Shohet and Mohel. He was sent to Menkes, Morocco, to the home of the Chief Rabbi, where he studied and sang with the famous Sephardic singer, Joe Amar. Ordained by Rabbi Baruch Toledano, Rabbi Murciano achieved the highest degree of Yore Yore Yadin Yadin, an ordination that permits a rabbi to make rabbinical decisions on Jewish law.
In 1948 arrangements were made by the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, to bring the top eighteen students from Morocco to study at the world-renowned graduate school for Talmudic scholars. Shortly after arriving, he officiated at both Sephardic and Syrian synagogues in Brooklyn. While attending the Mirrer Yeshiva and Yeshiva University on weekdays, he commuted to Philadelphia to officiate at Mikve Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, as Assistant Rabbi and Hazan for three years. There he met Madeleine, of Sephardic Dutch descent and they married in August 1951.
In 1953 Rabbi Murciano became the rabbi of the Sephardic Jewish Center of the Bronx. He continued to study at City College, where he earned a BA degree, and then studied at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University where he earned his master’s degree. He studied at Columbia University with the world-renowned Jewish historian, Dr. Salo Baron, for five years. He earned his Ph.D. at NYU. He taught at York College and YU. He became a respected member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Board of Rabbis. He was Chaplin to the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America and the Sephardic Home for the Aged. For thirty-five years he was a chaplain at Jacobi Hospital. For sixty-seven years he served as Rabbi of the Sephardic Jewish Center, the same congregation from the Bronx and Forest Hills, making him the longest-tenured Sephardic Rabbi of the same congregation in the USA. He was beloved by all who knew him for his distinct religious services, Torareading, Haftarot, scholarship, divre Tora, his memorable voice singing in Hebrew and Ladino, and his sense of humor. His services and compassion touched so many people, young and old, from all the Sephardic communities in the greater New York area.
The Rubisa and their three quite accomplished children, eleven grandchildren and thirty-four great-grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews, in the US and Israel, together with his loving congregation will sorely mourn his loss. Though unable to gather together at this time, surely there will be services and remembrances, as soon as our community is able to join in prayer together again. Joe Halio, M.D.Secretary, Sephardic Jewish CenterBoard of Directors, American Sephardi Federation
The Sephardic World Weekly
New York Jewish Guide