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Newsletter: November 2021

This year Yom Plitim (Sephardi/Mizrahi Refugee Day) is the second day of Hanukkah. We celebrate the legacy and dignity of Jews from Arab lands. The displacement and trauma of nearly one million Jews after World War II was not an end of Jewish life, but a transformation that led to a new beginning. Today more than 50% of Israelis identify as Sephardi/Mizrahi and vibrant communities live throughout the Diaspora especially in France, the USA and Canada.

Sephardi Voices’ mission is to tell their stories and increase awareness among Jews and non-Jews in the context of human rights – to spread the light of Hanukkah. The publication of Sephardi Voices: The Untold Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands will soon be available for you to read their stories and see their faces. Readings and events with portrait exhibits will begin in Miami in March 2022 and continue in Europe and Israel. The first leg of the book tour and exhibitions will finish at Library and Archives Canada on April 7, 2022, with the deposit of the Canadian interviews and a two-week portrait exhibition. The Canadian government welcomes the SV collection as part of its multicultural mosaic and recognizes that Arab Jewish refugees have unique stories to share.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that we have the opportunity to teach and nourish our children and grandchildren with the Sephardi narrative of the 20th century, to bring new curriculum to our schools, to empower our Jewish leaders that Jewish civilization is more than European, Ashkenazi. Help us collect the stories and shine the lights of the Hanukah menorah. Chag sameach.

Henry Green
Executive Director

Sephardi Voices: The Untold Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands

Take a sneak peek at some sample pages from our new book, SEPHARDI VOICES: The Untold Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands, available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo.

Watch our short promo video:

PAST EVENTS

November 30, 2021

Executive Director Henry Green, presents a video on the genesis of Yom Plitim at the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal.

November 19, 2021

Israel in Iraq, through the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, subtitles an SV video on Ezra Zilkha in Arabic with a reach of 600,000 people in the Middle East.

Watch the video…

November 2021

Sephardi Voices’ films, What We Left Behind and Last Class in Baghdad, are subtitled in Indonesian, for screening at the Tolerance Film Festival. See the subtitled films in links below:

What We Left Behind

Last Class in Baghdad

October 10, 2021

Temple Beth Am and the Miami Jewish Genealogical Society, Sunday Salons, Miami Florida. Executive Director Henry Green moderated a panel on Jewish Life in Morocco.

October 7, 2021

The Hidden Jews of Brazil, A Zoom lecture co-sponsored with the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto.

UPCOMING EVENTS

December 13, 2021

Executive Director Henry Green will moderate a Yom Plitim event with the Consulate General of Israel in Miami with Iraqi witness and journalist Linda Menuhin AbdelAziz and a video on Danny Ayalon, former Israeli Ambassador to the USA.

January 2022

Executive Director Henry Green will moderate a discussion with Mano Khalil, the director of the film Neighbours, at the Miami Jewish Film Festival.

March 14, 2022

Book launch and portrait exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Florida, Miami Beach

April 7, 2022

Book Launch and two-week portrait exhibition at Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Director’s Message – Autumn 2021

Shana tova. May the new year bring health and tikkun olam. Despite the surge in the Covid Delta variant, Sephardi Voices has just gone through a period of extraordinary productivity. The production of our coffee table book, Sephardi Voices: The Untold Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands, was completed and is now at the printer; a grant from the Florida Humanities Council led to our first program in Spanish in June, and the Canadian Sephardi Collection is near completion with plans moving forward for a launch event with the Library Archives Canada in 2022.

Gladys (Mooallem) Daoud has been appointed our Director of Canadian Programming and Adam Knelman Ostry our Director of European Programming. Gladys is a Jewish refugee who fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Adam is a career public servant and proudly carries a Jewish identity.

In the coming months, Sephardi Voices will be collaborating with Israeli Consulates and organizations in Canada and the USA for Yom Plitim (November 30th) events via zoom. I look forward to sharing with you many Sephardi stories to commemorate and celebrate the rich Sephardi legacy.

Please join us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and on our Zoom events.

Henry Green

ANNOUNCEMENT: Director of European Programming – Adam Knelman Ostry

Sephardi Voices is pleased to announce that Mr. Adam Knelman Ostry, a Canadian and British national and a permanent resident of France, has been appointed as its Director of European programming.

Read more ...

ANNOUNCEMENT: Director of Canadian Programming – Gladys Daoud

Sephardi Voices is pleased to announce that Gladys Daoud has been appointed the Director of Canadian Programming. Born in Baghdad Iraq, Gladys is fully trilingual in English, French and Arabic.

Read more ...

Past Events (Spring and Summer 2021)

The spring and summer of 2021 saw several exciting and informative events including a feature story in FORUM, the Magazine of Florida Humanities and several Zoom lectures by Sephardi Voice Executive Director Henry Green.

Read more ...

Upcoming Events (Autumn 2021)

October 7, 2021

Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto in partnership Sephardi Voices will present The Hidden Jews of Brazil, a presentation on the descendants of the conversos of Brazil.

Read more ...

Newsletter for Spring 2021

DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

Despite the lock-down and inability to meet face to face, Sephardi Voices has been busier than ever thanks to virtual connectivity. Over the last few months, we have hosted and were partners in multiple Zoom events and webinars. They have ranged from local synagogues, to national organizations like Israel Bonds; from Genealogical societies to Jewish film festivals in New York, Philadelphia and South Florida. In March, Sephardi Voices, for the first time, was awarded a Florida Humanities Grant that enabled us to plan two webinars. SV hosted its first event ever in Spanish—“Desde la Inquisicion Espanola hasta Miami: Historias personales de Hispanos en Miami” (From the Spanish Inquisition to Miami: Personal Stories of Hispanics in Miami).  Led by Genie Milgrom, a Cuban born Catholic who traced her unbroken maternal lineage 22 generations going back to 1405 to Spain, she reconverted back to Judaism and published the award-winning book, My 15 Grandmothers.

Sunday, June 6th is the second webinar: “The Forgotten Exodus: Floridian Hispanic Jews from the Islamic World” highlights three Sephardi from South Florida whose portraits were exhibited at the Miami Wynwood Gallery SV exhibit just before Covid struck in February 2020. Each personal story illustrates not only their displacement of Jews from Islamic lands but also their displacement from Hispanic lands (Spain, Cuba and Venezuela). To register, click here.

These Zoom events have enabled thousands to join us on Eventbrite, Facebook and Instagram live and share the Sephardi Voices mission in raising the human rights story of the Sephardi.

In the months ahead, SV will be moving forward with the National Libraries of Canada and Israel, returning to conducting interviews, and more exhibits.  We are especially excited about launching our first book, Sephardi Voices: The Forgotten Exodus of the Arab Jews, scheduled to be in bookstores and available online in early November, pre-Hanukah.

Henry Green
Executive Director

Support Us

ISRAEL DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

Dear Friends,

Central to the mission of Sephardi Voices is storytelling and sharing personal tales of lives lived as Jews in Arab and Muslim countries. Through these stories, we believe, Jews and non-Jews around the world will be educated, moved, and inspired to ensure the storytelling continues from generation to generation.

Today, we relish the memoirs of the many Jews who recall their experiences in their home countries. Before Passover, I reread André Aciman’s Out of Egypt, which deftly drops the reader as if by parachute right into the author’s childhood in Alexandria. I delighted in his descriptions of the city and its diverse population and smorgasbord of characters and felt his pain at leaving his beloved city behind. Sitting on my balcony in a Tel Aviv suburb and reading about Alexandria—a mere 300 miles away as the crow flies—I also felt the impossibility of reaching the place Aciman describes, because the place he describes no longer exists.

What memoir does—in addition to offering the author a vehicle to express something inside of him or her—is to ensure that a little bit of ‘that place, that time’ exists in every reader on the receiving end. As those who remember their experiences age, fewer and fewer memoirs will be written and what is written will have to suffice in ensuring the history is not forgotten. I keep wondering whether the next generation will connect to the history of Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews. Whether the demise of these cultures will even bother them in the slightest.

How can this new generation possibly have the bandwidth for retaining historical memory of Jewish communities that feel even more remote and unimaginable to them than Aciman’s Alexandria feels to me? There are glimmers of hope. The resurgence of Mizrachi music in Israel is one; for Israeli teens it’s the new normal.

And this spring, ANU: Museum of the Jewish People opened on the campus of Tel Aviv University, after a transformation from what was previously the Jewish Diaspora Museum (Beit Hatfuzot). I was deeply heartened to see the Sephardi story fully intertwined with the Ashkenazi one—shining a creative light on yesterday’s Alexandria, Baghdad, and beyond.

B’shalom,

Tamar Morad
Sephardi Voices Israel Director

Documenting The Uprooted, Lyn Julius is Preserving Memory & History For The Ages

Few individuals have done as much in recent decades to document the painful history of the demise of the Jewish communities of the Arab world, and publicize the personal accounts that are part of this history, than Londoner Lyn Julius.

Through Harif – the Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, which she launched in 2005, she writes a blog, ‘Point of No Return,’ and hosts events that highlight the history.

Her 2018 book Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab world vanished overnight (Vallentine Mitchell) is an outgrowth of her blog, and a compilation of additional research and documentation she has accumulated over time. In the three years since the publication of Uprooted, it has become a go-to resource for hard data about the size of Jewish communities of the region, the places in which they lived, the persecution they faced, and the events that led to their expulsion during the 20th century.

“Reams have been written about the Arab-Israeli conflict, but the story of the Jews from Arab and Muslim countries https://www.harif.org/ remains shockingly neglected,” she writes in Uprooted. Relying on personal testimonies from the hundreds of individuals whom she has met and interviewed and historical evidence, her work is attempting to turn the tide and bring to light hidden historical truths.

Formative moments

The seed of Lyn’s dedication to the subject may be traced to 1969, when as a schoolgirl she attended a vigil outside the Iraqi embassy in London following the execution of nine Jews in Liberation Square in Baghdad. The tragedy was anxiety-provoking and personal; many relatives were still living in Iraq and counted among the 3,000 remaining members of the Jewish community whose numbers had dwindled from about 140,000 in mid-century. Her parents had fled Iraq for England in 1950, so Iraq was present in her life from the very beginning, but this moment was a formative one. Then came September 11.

“After 9/11, we were all confronted with radical Islam, and for those of us who had experienced it before it became a wake-up call, that we have a role to play in describing encounters with the radicalism of the Middle East and North Africa,” she says. Her blog is a rich resource of personal accounts, historical context, maps, photos, and other documentation. Sixteen years after she first sat down at the keyboard with merely an idea and a mission, her posts now number about 6,000.

The concept was “to fix distortions and set the record straight on historical facts, break the myth that Jews and Arabs always had a peaceful coexistence, and stop the revisionist history that the Palestinians are ‘the’ refugees in the Middle East,” she says.

“There were many more Jewish refugees from Arab countries than Palestinian refugees,” she adds. “But their story has been largely forgotten by the world for several reasons: because the Jews resettled quickly and well in their new countries, unlike Palestinians who were left by their leaders to languish for generations; because the tragic history of European Jewry subsumed the story of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries; because Israel didn’t adequately publicize what happened to these communities in the wake of 1948; and because media attention over-fixates on the Palestinian refugee problem. This is why the story of the Jews of Arab lands is at risk of being totally forgotten. I felt I needed to do my small share to right this wrong.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Harif’s online ‘Lockdown Lectures’ have attracted hundreds of new viewers—the silver lining to the pandemic when she has been unable to give in-person talks. Harif’s newsletter continues to elucidate the history, and also updates readers on current news about the spare number of Jews left in these countries.

For instance, in April she reported that 13 of Yemen’s few remaining Jews were expelled from the country and are now in Egypt. As the Jews who personally recall the expulsions of their communities continue to age and the events recede into history, Lyn feels only increasing pressure to continue to “keep the truth alive,” she says.  “We are in a race against time.”

BIG NEWS!

March 9, 2021, Community Project Grant Award

Sephardi Voices received its first project grant award from Florida Humanities to present two community based public programs on the Sephardi in Florida.

Feb 1, 2021, National Library of Israel, Monthly Update

National Library of Israel Announces Sephardi Voices Project

PAST EVENTS

Feb 21, The Jewish Community from Iran

Zoom event with Temple Beth Am (Miami) and SV Executive Director Henry Green, including special guest Dr. Lina Samimy. Co-presented with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami.

March 24, Passover and the Forgotten Exodus: Sharing the Stories of Jewish Displacement

Israel Bonds, Sephardi Voices, and the Consulate of Israel in Miami presented a Passover Zoom event hosted by SV Executive Director, Henry Green.

April 5 & 12, Sephardi and Mizrahi Voices in our Family

First Narayever Congregation in Toronto and Sephardi Voices presented a Zoom talk hosted by SV Exec Director Henry Green and featuring the witnesses, Lisette Shahoua, Flo Urbach and Noemi Lieberman.

April 14, Miami Jewish Film Festival

SV Executive Director Henry Green in conversation with directors Carole Basri & Adriana Davis for their film “Saving the Iraqi Jewish Archives.”

WATCH HERE  

May 2, Desde la Inquisicion Espanola hasta Miami: Historias personales de Hispanos en Miami

Sephardi Voices and Florida Humanities Council presented a zoom event on Florida’s Converso and Sephardi communities moderated by Genie Milgrom. This was Sephardi Voices first event in Spanish.

Newsletter for Winter 2021

Director’s Message

Happy New Year!

May 2021 be a year of healing and Tikun Olam.

Sephardi Voices, like many organizations, has taken the opportunity to reinvent itself through Zoom events. During November and December 2020, we hosted programs with synagogues in Miami (Beth Am and Temple Judea), a Sephardi association (Ottawa, Canada), Limmud (Toronto), and Israeli consulates for Yom Plitim (Toronto and Miami). Thousands who knew nothing about Sephardi Voices tuned in to hear stories of the forgotten exodus. Great thanks to Jimmy Benaudis from Morocco/France, Juliette Glasser from Egypt, Elisa Diane from Algeria/France, Lisette Shashoua from Iraq, and Gracy Kahn Esses and Clemy Srour from Lebanon who generously shared their memories.

The Yom Plitim Zoom events hosted by the Israeli consulates were especially poignant. The consulates reached out to their Jewish communities and many organizations signed on to support Sephardi Voices in remembering and celebrating the heritage of the Sephardi/Mizrahi from Arab lands. Among the many were the Zionist Organization of America, the Jewish National Fund, the American Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and Jewish Federations. In Miami, Mayor Tal Ohana of Yerucham, the fourth generation of immigrants from Morocco, was our guest speaker. She was welcomed by Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the newly elected mayor of Miami-Dade County.

In Toronto, the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, spoke on behalf of the Canadian government and acknowledged the human rights of the Sephardi/Mizrahi displaced from Islamic lands. This was the first time a representative of the Canadian government spoke officially for Yom Plitim – Jewish Refugee Day.

We are optimistic that Sephardi Voices will continue to partner with Israeli consulates, synagogues, and organizations in hosting Zoom events for 2021. We are also optimistic that as vaccines become available, Sephardi Voices will return to provide face to face programs and conducting interviews. In the interim, SV continues to move forward with the National Library of Israel and the National Library of Canada in cataloguing the collection through the generous support of Robert Mashaal.

Wishing you the best for 2021!

Henry Green

Executive Director

Support Us

A special message from the Chair of Sephardi Voices – Richard Stursberg

The Sephardi Voices Archive houses one of the largest collection of digital audio-visual interviews in the world. To date, over 450 interviews have been done, recording what life was like for Jews living in Arab lands, what happened to the individuals who had to flee, and what has become of them since. The collection contains not only the interviews but also family photographs, school report cards, passports, property deeds, identity cards, and souvenirs, a vast assemblage of materials from the world that was lost.

With the generous support of David Dangoor (London), the Archive will become the source for a new book called Sephardi Voices: Stories of the Arab Jews. The book recounts this largely forgotten exodus through the words of the people who lived through it. They describe their lives before the expulsions began, the terror they had to endure, and the ways in which they rebuilt in the countries that took them in. Their stories are stories of loss, but also stories of redemption.

The book includes many of their family photographs and portraits. There are rare and privileged glimpses into their schools, family gatherings, marriages, and celebrations. They appear as they were then – in Baghdad, Algiers, and Cairo – and as they are now.

Their story is told chronologically. It begins with the first Jew, Abraham, and moves forward through the vast reaches of Jewish history, focusing on the great events of the post-war period: the founding of the state of Israel and the War of Independence, the Suez Crisis, the Algerian War of Independence, the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Iranian Revolution.

These events are seen and heard through the voices of the displaced. There are wealthy bankers and businessmen from Baghdad, friends of the last King of Egypt, impoverished artisans from the Casbah in Algiers, mountain peasants from Morocco, intellectuals and Nobel Prize winners, schoolgirls in Yemen, daring smugglers and influential politicians.

There are witnesses to the pogroms in Libya and Egypt, the burning of the synagogues in Syria, the terrible Farhud in Iraq; there are passengers on the great airlifts of the Magic Carpet and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah; there are families escaping through the mountains of Kurdistan; there are fortunes rebuilt in London and Montreal; there are husbands smuggled into Teheran in search of wives; there are, in fact, the whole lost world and its redemption.

Sephardi Voices: Stories of the Arab Jews will be available in bookstores in the fall of 2021.

Please stay safe.

Richard Stursberg

Sephardi Voices Chair

National Library of Israel launches Sephardi Voices project

Israel, known as Start-Up Nation, has quickly become the Vaccination Nation, with the highest rate of COVID-19 vaccine deployment in the world. Our Sephardi Voices team has been unable to travel and meet in person—and so our interviews of Sephardi Jews from all over the world have been put on hold temporarily. But we are grateful that several key efforts to document the personal histories of the Jews of the Arab world have not been hindered.

One of them is a partnership with the National Library of Israel to house the Sephardi Voices collection in perpetuity. Although it has been closed to the public, the National Library has been hard at work in digitizing and publishing oral histories from the Sephardi Voices’ initiative—the world’s first large-scale digital collection that documents and preserves the life stories of Jews who lived in Arab and Islamic countries. The initiative is the result of an agreement with SV, and it will also include a dedicated landing page devoted to the SV project.

The joint project addresses “a very important subject that, after a long time, has started to become the focus of research, as well as growing public awareness,” said Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator of the Judaica Collection in the National Library, in an interview in Israel Hayom newspaper. The SV collection at the National Library will include audio interviews, documents and transcripts, and photographs.

The Library, located in the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, contains more than five million books, and holds one of the world’s largest collections of Judaica. A new 34,000 square-foot building is scheduled for completion in 2021.

A joint event with the National Library to formally launch the SV collection will be planned for 2022.

Tamar Morad

Sephardi Voices Israel Director

Guest Contributor – Jimmy Benaudis

My first real experience with anti-Semitism was in 1967 when the Six Day War broke out. It was the first time in my life that I felt my Jewish identity. It was in June. I was at school in second grade. It’s in the middle of the day and during recess in the morning. All of a sudden, a few Moroccan kids in my class, came at me, saying, “we’re going to kill you because you’re a Jew, you’re Zionist.” And we start to fight in the schoolyard. There’s no internet and little TV, but somehow these kids were conditioned by their families, to see me as other, a “Zionist” who deserved to be insulted, spat on and physically assaulted. Al lihoudi khanz – “dirty Jew”. I was 7 years old.

When I got home, I told my mom what happened and she told me, “keep a low profile.” That changed my life in a big way. It made me realize there would always be people reminding me that I was a Jew, and I was somehow a representative of Israel.

We knew when we were growing up that we would probably be the last generation living in Morocco. It was not a matter of where we will live, but when we will leave. There was a feeling of not being home, of always being kind of a second-class citizen. There was no real future for us in Morocco because we were Jewish.

My family’s roots in Morocco go back to 1492. But after centuries, and generations, we left. My sisters and parents moved to Israel. My eldest sister emigrated in 1971 after completing high school. It was a time of change and personal liberation. My parents were not comfortable having their 17-year-old daughter going to France where drugs and sexual freedom were the two main pillars of French universities. I left for Toulouse and university in 1978 at the age of eighteen. It was the golden age for Jews in France. I had never met an Ashkenazi Jew before. Some of them became very good friends of mine. They were close to Israel and proud of their Jewish identity, but I found them very French. Coming from a traditional Moroccan background, I was shocked when I saw a Jew eating ham in his home. Where I came from this was unheard of.

Over time, the mood started to change in France, and I started feeling the same thing that I felt in Morocco – this is not my place. Who is going to be on our side if anti-Semitism comes, and it will come with the growing Muslim population?

We lived in a bubble in Paris and had very good friends living in good neighborhoods. But our kids were going to grow up in this country, go to school, take the metro, go to clubs and confront open hostility. I didn’t want them to encounter what I had to face in Morocco.

A new and rampant anti-Semitism in France fueled mainly by a growing and vocal Muslim community was not going to stop. The time had come to pack up once again. So, in 2002, at age 42, my wife and I decided it was time to leave for the US with our three young children. Leaving seems to be a second nature for Sephardi Jews.

Jimmy Benaudis, Morroco

Sephardi Voices Guest Contributor

Interested in submitting a piece to a future newsletter?

Email our Director of Communications at mdevorahkahn@sephardivoices.com or click below!

Submit Here

UPCOMING EVENTS

February 11, 2021

Echoes of Purim and Passover: Stories from Egypt and Iran

Purim Program hosted by Sephardi Voices and Temple Judea, TBA

February 21, 2021

Sephardi Voices, Temple Beth Am, and the Miami Jewish Genealogical Society present the Jewish Community from Iran, a Zoom conference hosted by SV Executive Director Henry Green, with special guest speaker, physician and artist, Dr. Lina Zargar-Samimy, and Keynote speaker, Dr. Lior Sternfield, professor of history and Jewish studies at Penn State.

March 18, 2021, Pesach

Israel Consulate of Miami and Sephardi Voices present The Forgotten Exodus: Sephardi Voices From the Arab World, a Zoom presentation on the plight of the Arab Jews, 12:30PM EST.

Fall 2021

Publication of Sephardi Voices – Untold Stories of the Arab Jews, a coffee table book written by SV Chair, Richard Stursberg and SV Executive Director, Henry Green, published by Figure 1 in Vancouver, Canada.

2021/2022 TBA

The Forgotten Exodus – A Canadian Refuge

Portrait Exhibition with opening night keynote speaker, Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

2022 TBA

Portrait Exhibition at the National Library of Israel as part of the year of celebration for the opening of the new National Library in Jerusalem. This will also announce the deposit of the entire Sephardi Voices Collection into the Library.

PAST EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS

November 15, 2020, From Baklava to Beavertails: The Syrian & Lebanese Jewish Experience in Canada

Zoom presentation with the Sephardi Association of Ottawa and Sephardi Voices Executive Director, Henry Green, featuring filmmaker Michelle Devorah Kahn.

https://youtu.be/Lp8EC8WQiL8

November 22, 2020, Limmud Toronto

Spielberg and the Sephardi – Testimonies of Jewish Refugees from Islamic Lands

Iraqi witness Lisette Shashoua and Sephardi Voices founder, Henry Green, delivered a Zoom presentation on the legacy of the Sephardi Jews at the annual Jewish educational event.

https://vimeo.com/501997687

November 29, 2020, Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Israel Consulate of Toronto and Sephardi Voices presented a Zoom Conference commemorating Yom Plitim. It was hosted by SV Executive Director, Henry Green, with Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations and from Israel, Guest Speaker Linda Menhuen.

November 30, 2020, Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Israel Consulate of Miami and Sephardi Voices presented a Zoom Conference commemorating Yom Plitim. It was hosted by Sephardi Voices Executive Director Henry Green and featured Gislaine Diaine and Elisa Diaine Scemama, first and second generation Algerian Jews, who now live in France and the USA.

December 6, 2020, The Jewish Community from Egypt

Sephardi Voices, Temple Beth Am, and the Miami Jewish Genealogical Society presented a Zoom conference on the Jewish community from Egypt. Speakers included Alain Farhi, Yeves Fedida and Sephardi Voices board member, Juliette Glasser.

December 10, 2020, The Forgotten Refugees – Lights from Sephardi Voices

On the eve of Hanukah, Sephardi Voices and Temple Judea in Miami presented a Zoom conference with guest speakers, Jimmy Benaudis from Morocco, and Sephardi Voices research consultant and interviewer, Lisette Shashoua, who is an Iraqi refugee.

Newsletter for Autumn 2020

Director’s Message

For many months, all of us around the world have been alarmed and affected by the pandemic. Like many others, Sephardi Voices has started connecting virtually. But we are also re-visioning how to help tell your stories.

Odette and Jacob Masliyah, Iraqi refugees, living in Edmonton Canada, were being honored by the Jewish National Fund for their contribution to the Jewish community. The JNF asked how to honor them. The Masliyah’s replied, “tell the story of Jews displaced from Arab lands.” So, Sephardi Voices was invited to create a video from their collection for the online gala celebration. On August 27th, before a large and international zoom audience, hundreds who never had heard of Arab Jews, became aware of their human rights story. Thank you, Odette and Jacob, for your foresight.

https://vimeo.com/443077292

Sephardi Voices is also moving forward with webinars that partner with other organizations such as the Jewish Genealogical Association, The Sephardi Association of Ottawa, Limmud Toronto, and the University of Miami. We are working with Israeli Consulates in the USA and Canada to bring local Sephardi Voices to Yom Plitim activities.

Since we are restricted from doing in home interviews, we are starting a pilot program of interviews on Zoom. This will initiate in South Florida where we will be interviewing in Spanish for the first time.

Unfortunately, a number of major Sephardi Voices projects have been put on hold in 2020, such as the portrait exhibit planned for the National Library of Canada. But we are encouraged that they will blossom in 2021. We continue to move forward with cataloguing the collection through a generous gift from Nan and David Rich, and Robert Mashaal. Sephardi Voices is hard at work on The Arab Jews, a coffee table book published by Figure1 in Vancouver, and made possible by David Dangoor (London.) The publication date is Hanukah 2021.

Between September 2019 and February 2020, we had three standout portrait exhibitions at the Jewish Museum of Montreal, the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto and the Wynwood Gallery of the University of Miami. This led to many gallery visitors volunteering to be interviewed with donor possibilities to cover costs of operating Sephardi Voices. Unfortunately, the pandemic has interrupted our momentum. We need your help. Please lend a hand in supporting Sephardi Voices.

May 5781 be a year of health, abundance and blessings. Shana tovah umetukah ve hatimah tovah!

Henry Green

Executive Director

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Sephardi Voices International and the Great Uprooting

Dear friends,

This is the first time as Chairman of Sephardi Voices International (SVI) that I have had the opportunity to write to you. I do so during very strange and difficult times. The Covid-19 virus has created the worst social and economic crisis since the end of the Second World War. Nobody knows how or when it will end. At SVI, we extend our sympathy and best wishes to all whose lives have been upset or ruined by the pandemic.

2020/5781 marks 75 years since the conclusion of World War Two. The surrender of Germany brought an end to the scourge of Nazism, but saw the beginning of the systematic oppression of the Jews in Arab lands. Starting in the late 1940s, the mass exodus of the Sephardim began. Over the next three decades, almost a million fled their ancestral communities.

Now, almost 40 years after the flood of refugees peaked, the enormous exodus remains relatively unknown. The fate of other displaced peoples has been covered in detail and received international political attention, but the mass expulsion of the Sephardi Jews fell into one of the memory holes of history.

Just over 10 years ago, SVI was established as a small research project focused on documenting the stories of displacement. Since then, it has grown into an archive that houses the personal testimonies of more than 400 people who had to abandon their homes.

The narratives of the refugees and displaced are recorded in a video in their own voices. They capture the cultures of their communities, their accounts of their perilous escapes and their ultimate triumphs over injustice. Their stories are the core of the archive, the living heart of SVI.

As the archive has grown, it has become an important resource for scholars and educators. To ensure its preservation and to facilitate access, the collection is being housed in the national libraries of Israel, Canada, Britain and the United States. 

Using the archived stories, SVI has produced curricular materials, films, exhibitions and international symposia to document, explore and understand what happened. Plans are underway to produce a large illustrated book that, using the collected stories, will tell the history of the Great Uprooting. 

I am enormously proud of what has been accomplished and look forward to even greater developments in the years to come. 

Please stay safe.

Richard Stursberg

 

Past Events

February 3 – March 16, 2020 An American Refuge Portrait Exhibition at the University of Miami Gallery
Sephardi Voices and the University of Miami Department of Art and Art History hosted the portrait exhibition Sephardi Voices An American Refuge, at the University of Miami Gallery in Wynwood Miami. Opening night saw an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 people enjoying the striking artistry of portrait photographer J. Tomas Lopez.
https://vimeo.com/461161289

May 4, 2020 Greater North Miami Historical Society/Florida International University
Dr. Henry Green, Executive Director of Sephardi Voices presented a lecture via zoom on “Miami Immigrant Stories: Hispanic Sephardi from Islamic Lands”.
https://miami.box.com/v/HistoricalMiamiHenryGreen

August 27, 2020, JNF Edmonton Negev Zoom Gala, honouring Odette and Jacob Masliyah
Dr. Henry Green, Executive Director of Sephardi Voices, hosted a video on the story of the Arab Jews, produced in Miami for the Zoom tribute to Jacob and Odette Maliyah.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKBKpqqUoc8&feature=youtu.be

Upcoming Events

ZOOM INTERVIEWS

In keeping with current health guidelines, Sephardi Voices will be starting regular interviewing again in South Florida, New York, Montreal and Toronto with Zoom video conferencing. Even though the interviews will not be of the same high SV technical broadcast standard, it is important that the interviews not be interrupted, and SV continues to preserve the Sephardi legacy.

October 25, The Sephardi Association of Ottawa

The Joseph Esses Story (film), followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Henry Green with filmmaker Michelle Devorah Kahn, Joseph’s granddaughter and Clemy Srour, Past President of the Association.

November 22, Limmud Toronto, Sephardi Voices – A Canadian Refuge

Zoom webinar with Dr. Henry Green and witnesses Flo Urbach (Iraq), Robert Sidi (Lebanon) and Noemi Liberman (Libya).

November 29, Yom Plitim event Miami

Zoom Webinar with Galit Peleg, Israel Consul of Miami, Michael Biton, Israeli Minister of Defense and South Florida Sephardi, moderated by Dr. Henry Green.

TBA, Yom Plitim event in Toronto

Zoom webinar with Galit Baram, Israel Consul of Toronto, Tal Ohana, Mayor of Yeruhum, and Canadian Sephardi moderated by Dr. Henry Green.

December 6, Miami Jewish Genealogical Society with Temple Beth Am

Egypt and Genealogy: Reconnecting to Sephardi ancestry and heritage

Zoom webinar with Dr. Henry Green, Yoram Millman and Egyptian Sephardi.

Delayed, The Forgotten Exodus – A Canadian Refuge

Portrait Exhibition with opening night keynote speaker, Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Delayed, The Forgotten Exodus – An Untold Story

Multi-media portrait exhibition and programing events, Schwartz/Resiman JCC, Toronto.