New Project Will Record Experiences of Middle-Eastern Jews

Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2012. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen arriving at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv in 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The experiences and life stories of Jews from Middle Eastern countries will be recorded for posterity, thanks to new legislation passed by the Knesset. Funding has been allocated for a project that will dispatch teams of historians who will interview Israelis who were born in Arab and North African countries, discussing their lives and experiences both in their home countries and in Israel.

NIS10 million will be dedicated for the project, to be distributed by the Ministry for Social Equality, headed by Gila Gamliel. “Accomplishing this will not just benefit one group, but it is a national project that is important for Israel and the Jewish people,” Gamliel said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “[T]he story of the Jewish people will be more complete, as Israelis of all ages will have the opportunity to hear and learn about the glorious heritage of this part of the Jewish people.”

The new project is based on others in recent years – both public and private – that utilize modern technology to record the testimonies of individuals who experienced significant historical events. The best known of these is the Toldot Yisrael project, which recorded the experiences of 1,100 people who lived through the establishment of the state in 1948.

In 2014 the Knesset set aside a day to commemorate the suffering of Jews from Arab countries who were largely expelled from their home countries after the establishment of Israel. On 30 November schools around the country teach a special curriculum dedicated to highlighting the experiences of those communities.

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