Thursday, August 9, 2012

Newsletter: Jews of the Middle East & North Africa


Thursday August 9th, 2012 
Av 21, 5772 
JIMENA's June Calendar of Events 

Memories of Syria
Opening Reception 
Painting by Avraham Shemi
Oshman Family JCC
Schultz Cultural Arts Hall Lobby
Sunday, September 9th
3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

The Memories of Syria exhibit, by Israeli artist, Avraham Shemi features vibrant paintings that recall daily life for the Jewish community of the artist's native town of Aleppo, Syria. 

The opening reception will feature a 15 minute screening of Forgotten Refugees and an update on issues involving Jewish refugees by JIMENA speaker, Mr. Albert Bivas.
The exhibit is on display from September 7th - November 7th   

JIMENA to present at Justice for Jewish Refugees International Conference

Jerusalem, Israel
September 9th - 10th

Members of JIMENA's staff and board will participate in an upcoming conference whose mission is "to raise the profile of this unresolved chapter in Middle East diplomacy and to examine the available course of action to advance its resolution".

Organized by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Jewish Congress, the conference will open with speeches by Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Danny Ayalon, Israeli Deputy Minister for Senior Citizens; Lea Nass, former Canadian Minister of Justice; Irwin Cotler, JIMENA President; Gina Waldman, and World Jewish Congress Secretary General; Dan Diker. The conference will feature workshops and presentations by JJAC, Harif, JIMENA and a broad range of organizations, journalists, and activists, working on the issue. 

An Insider's Look at Iran's Turmoil
Roya Hakakian  Photo: Pacal Perich
San Francisco Jewish Community Center
Thursday, September 27th

Join JCCSF's Art & Ideas and JIMENA for a discussion with Iranian-American journalist, filmmaker and Farsi poet Roya Hakakian. Roya recalls her experience of growing up Jewish in Tehran in her memoir Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran. Hakakian will discuss political upheaval in Iran, foreign policy, and her new book, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.

3rd Civic Action Conference of 
30 Years After


Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Los Angeles, California
Sunday, October 14th
9:00AM - 9:00PM
Purchase tickets here

JIMENA is proud to support the fantastic work of our friends at 30 Years After. We are excited to participate in their 3rd Civic Action Conference which will bring together Los Angeles's most prominent civic leaders. Members of JIMENA's burgeoning LA chapter will be on hand to represent JIMENA and Jews from Arab countries at the conference's organizational fair.

The mission of 30 Years After is to promote the participation and leadership of Iranian American Jews in American political, civic, and Jewish life.


 The Aleppo Codex: The Scandalous History of Judaism's Most Precious Book 
Matti Friedman
San Francisco Jewish Community Center
Wednesday, November 7th

JIMENA is excited to help welcome AP correspondent Matti Friedman. His new book is a story of theft, espionage, corruption and a state cover-up lasting decades. Mr. Friedman reveals the true-life detective story of the 10th-century annotated Hebrew Bible known as the Aleppo Codex. 

Mr. Friedman published work on the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries has received international praise and support. His most recent blog, Hidden History of Middle Eastern Jews can be found here. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here

 JIMENA and the National Council of Jewish Women 

Jewish Women's Conference of Southern California
Diversity Within the Jewish Community, Gina Waldman
Sunday, November 11th
Los Angeles, CA
More information here
East Bay Chapter of NCW Fall Meeting
Growing Up as a Jewish Girl in an Arab Country, Speaker TBD
Rossmore, CA
More information to come
This fall, JIMENA and the National Council of Jewish Women are partnering to tell the story of Jewish women from Arab Countries. Both presentations provide a unique opportunity to receive a compelling insiders perspective of what it means to be a Jewish minority in both the Middle East and in North America. 

 Stay Tuned For More Fall Programs! 

Sephardic in San Francisco Series
Together with Congregation Anshey Sfar, JIMENA is planning a community wide Sephardic series for late fall. The series will offer Middle Eastern cooking classes, movie screenings, Sephardic Shabbat dinner, and presentations by some of our leading civic leader. 

On Campus Events
As JIMENA is gearing up for the 2012-2013 academic year we are looking forward to hosting advocacy trainings, lectures, movies screenings, and cultural events on campuses throughout North America. If you would like to have a JIMENA program on your campus, please get in touch.

Speakers Training
Let JIMENA empower your Israel advocacy efforts with the narrative of Jewish refugees. If you are from the Middle East or North Africa and have a story to share, or simply want to learn more about the issue of Jewish refugees in the Middle East you are welcome to our Spekaers training. Please
let us know if this is a program you would like to participate in. 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR ALL EVENTS! Please email us to get involved.  



JIMENA Oral History Archive at Hebrew University 

Margalit Oved: Life as a Jewish girl in Aden. JIMENA Oral History
Margalit Oved: Life as a Jewish girl in Aden. JIMENA Oral History

JIMENA is in the preliminary phases of donating a copy of its Oral History archive to Hebrew University's Oral History Division of the Avraham Harman Institue of Contemporary Jewry. Upon completion the entire JIMENA catalogue of over 90 testimonies will be available to researchers and the public through Hebrew University's digital catalogue and through its youtube page.

"We were impressed by the Oral History Project of JIMENA, and would like to congratulate you for the achievement of having collected over 90 interviews in a relatively short period of time. We are interested to receive a copy of your collection, and we consider it as a most valuable contribution to our archive"

-Dr. Sharon Kangisser Cohen, Academic Director of Oral History Division & Dr. Margalit Bejarano, Professor Emeritus of the Oral History Division at Hebrew University's Avraham Harman Institute

Time is running out! Please help us ensure that the testimonies of Jewish refugees are documented and preserved before it's too late. Donate today. 


As the 2012-2013 academic year is approaching, JIMENA is recruiting student interns. JIMENA Interns are responsible for advancing the story of Jewish refugees through the development and completion of an independent, academic project that is aligned with their area of study. With the help of JIMENA's Speakers Bureau, interns engage and empower their campus communities through the implementation of an on-campus program that ideally incorporates a screening of Forgotten Refugees and a presentation by a JIMENA Speaker. This fall students from Hillsborough High School, Yale, San Francisco State University and UCLA have signed on.

If you are interested in becoming a JIMENA Intern, please email us today!

JIMENA Testimonial Spotlight

Dr. Charles Asher Small
"As an educator I am impressed by JIMENA's ability to impact students understanding of the conflict by effectively reframing the conversation, in a more naunaced, indepth manner, which also respects the history and plight of Jewish refugees to Israel from throughout the Middle East region.  Amazingly, these Jewish refugees from the region and thier decendents, which comprise the largest group of Israelis, have been largely ignored.  This despite the central role they play in the history of the conflict, and the profoundly rich culture and heritage they developed over the thousands of years living in the region.

JIMENA's talented and insightful speakers provide crucial first hand accounts of life and the exodus from the Middle East and North Africa.  This is a powerful tool in helping to shape public opinion of the conflict in a more balanced manner. JIMENA fills an important gap in the discourse, especially on college campuses, by challenging the widely adopted revisionist history of the Middle East, which ignores the plight of Jewish refugees and mistreatment of minorities."

-Dr. Charles Asher Small (D.Phil), Director, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) and Koret Distinguished Scholar, Stanford University

How Has JIMENA Impacted You?

 If you are a student or adult who has been impacted by the JIMENA narrative, please send us a written or recorded testimony. 

International News

House members seek recognition for Jewish refugees from Arab Countries

Yediot Ahranot (Ynet News) logo
July 31st, 2012

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Bob Turner (R-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to ensure recognition of the plight of the nearly one million Jews refugees who were displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. A statement of Nadler's offices aid the legislation would also recognize Christian and other..... Read More

Canadians behind U.S. bill to help Jews expelled from Arab countries

By Steven Edwards
Former Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler

The Ottawa Citizen
August 2nd, 2012  

Research by former justice minister Irwin Cotler and other Canadians is at the centre of a U.S. bill telling the American president to advance the cause of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were driven from Arab and Muslim lands after Israel's creation. The bipartisan draft legislation in the House of Representatives says the plight of Palestinian refugees has received "considerable attention" worldwide, and so it would "inappropriate and unjust" if the..... Read More

Save the date, even if you're Ashkenazi!

By Michelle Huberman
Iraqi Jews arriving in Israel, 1951
Jerusalem Post
July 19th, 2012  

Landmark news this week: Israel has approved a special memorial day to be set aside in the Jewish calendar to mark the exodus of Jews from Arab countries. On this Jewish Refugee Day, students will learn about the 850,000 Jewish refugees who fled their native Arab countries since the establishment of the State of Israel. Here at Harif (the UK association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, we have worked tirelessly with other organisations.... Read More

Call to Document Jewish Refugees' Claims in Arab World

By Maayan Miskin 
Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries
Arutz Sheva
July 18th, 2012  

The Knesset's State Control Committee held a session Wednesday on the subject of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who came to Israel in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. From 1948 to 1956 an estimated 856,000 Jews came to israel from the Arab world. Of those, around 600,000 were refugees who had been expelled from their homes in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, and Egypt... Read More

International genetic study traces Jewish roots to ancient Middle East

By Dan Evan  logo
August 8th, 2012  

A new study of genetic affinity among Jewish communities has uncovered evidence of genetic roots among Jews from North Africa that stretch back 2,000 years. 

Some findings are surprising: It turn out that Syrian Jews have more genetic commonality with Ashkenazi (European) Jews than with other oriental Jews (Jews from Asian and African lands)..... Read More
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Calling all Airline Miles!

JIMENA's Speakers Bureau program unites speakers with audiences all around the world. Donate your unused airline mileage to JIMENA and help us reach more people!

Preferred airlines include: American, Southwest, Jet Blue, United, Continental, Delta, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France and El Al.

Please contact Sarah Levin at or 415-626-5062 with questions.

  JIMENA is Generously Supported by: 

Kanbar Charitable Trust
Benhamou Family Foundation

Francine Gani

Iriving and Varda Rabin Philanthropic Fund


Private donors and philanthropic funds

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