The Sephardi Voices History Project Collects Testimony from Jews Who Fled Arab Lands after Israel Was Founded

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May. 01, 2013
May 1, 2013

Source: Tablet Magazine


Sephardi Voices, is an audio-visual history project currently under way to document and archive the testimonies of Jews displaced from North Africa and the Middle East in the 20th century. With branches in Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, Jerusalem, and New York, Sephardi Voices has already collected 250 testimonies and is aiming to gather 5,000 in the next five years.


The project, underway since 2009. Is led by Professor Henry Green of the University of Miami’s Department of Religious Studies in partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Sephardi Voices United Kingdom.


Sephardi voices aims to give voice to the nearly 1 million Jews that confronted growing discrimination and violence beginning in the 1940s. From the Tigris and Euphrates to the Arabian Peninsula and throughout the Mediterranean, these Sephardi Jews were expelled or compelled to flee their homes and communities. The Jewish population in Arab lands, once totaling 850,000, collapsed in the quarter-century following the founding of the State of Israel; by 1980, 95 percent had been displaced.


All funds for the project—totaling $250,000—have since been raised personally by Professor Green from private donors and foundations. There are 10 people working in the project worldwide, and the only ones who are paid are the cameramen and a few part-time workers. The rest are volunteers.


Interviewers are professionally trained, and the interviews are usually between one and two hours long. Unedited interviews are saved on hard drives and currently stored in different locations, as there’s still no central institution where the whole archive is collected. Sephardi Voices is in final stages of an agreement with the British Library on storing the U.K. testimonies there.


The end goal of all this project is to create an extensive, international, digital archive of testimonies and photographs and thus ensure the preservation of the history and heritage of Sephardi Jews for generations of scholars, educators, and the general public. The idea of putting it online is to create transparency and universal accessibility.


Read the entire article at Tablet Magazine.

Updated: Feb. 07, 2017
Oral history | Sephardic Jews | Technology