Ashkenazi Jews In Detail:A Jewish ethnic division which coalesced in the Holy Roman Empire around the turn of the first millennium. The traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews consisted of various dialects of Yiddish. They established communities throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The copious number of genetic studies on Ashkenazim — researching both their paternal and maternal lineages — all point to ancient Levantine origins.
The Yiddish language, which many people think of as the international language of Judaism, is really the language of Ashkenazic Jews.
Sephardi Jews ("The Jews of Spain") In Detail: A Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced in the Iberian Peninsula around the start of the 2nd millennium. They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity. Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the issuance of the Alhambra Decree by Spain's Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions, and executions.
As stated in www.jewfaqorg/ashkseph.htm, Sephardic Jews have their own international language: Ladino, which was based on Spanish and Hebrew in the same way that Yiddish was based on German and Hebrew. Further, Sephardic Jews have a different pronunciation of a few Hebrew vowels and one Hebrew consonant, though most Ashkenazim are adopting Sephardic pronunciation now because it is the pronunciation used in Israel. See Hebrew Alphabet. Sephardic prayer services are somewhat different from Ashkenazic ones, and Sephardim use different melodies in their services. Sephardic Jews also have different holiday customs and different traditional foods. For example, Ashkenazic Jews eat latkes (potato pancakes) to celebrate Chanukkah; Sephardic Jews eat sufganiot (jelly doughnuts).
Other Jewish Subcultures In Detail:
There are some Jews who do not fit into this Ashkenazic/Sephardic distinction. Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews (also known as Beta Israel and sometimes called Falashas), and Asian Jews also have some distinct customs and traditions. These groups, however, are relatively small and virtually unknown in America. For more information on Ethiopian Jewry, see the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry or Friends of Ethiopian Jews. For more information on Asian Jewry, see Jewish Asia.
Full credit for some of the text used above is given to http://www.jewfaqorg/ashkseph.htm; there is more information and possible updates/corrections at that site.