Harif puts Mizrahim on the map

This article by Alex Galbinski of European Jewish Press focuses on the Harif ‘Jews from Arab Countries Week’ now running in London. Harif was set up in May to represent Jews from the Middle East and North Africa now living in the UK. It is, among other things, seeking to change popular perceptions of Jewish culture.

“Maureen Lipman’s portrayal of the obsessive Jewish mother and grandmother in the British Telecom adverts of the 1980s may have amused a generation of Jews.

“But not all identified with the reference — for, surprisingly perhaps, the stereotypical ‘Jewish mother’ does not exist in Sephardi culture.

“Neither do smoked salmon bagels, nor klezmer music, and this week sees Harif, a new association committed to representing Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, putting on events to promote the history, culture and heritage of the Mizrahim, or Jews of the East.

“Harif, meaning pickle, was set up in May this year by Lionel Salama, whose father is Moroccan, and Lyn Julius, whose parents are Iraqi.

“Together, they want to make t’beet —the traditional Sabbath lunch of Iraqi Jews — and dafina — a Moroccan Sabbath stew, the Sephardic equivalent of Jewish Eastern Europe’s cholent — as resonant of Jewish culture as are gefilte fish and chopped liver.

(…) Upcoming events include the screening of From Tripoli to Bergen-Belsen, a film screening about the largely unknown story of the Libyan Jews deported to Nazi death camps followed by a discussion with specialist Dr Irit Abramsky of Yad Vashem, on Thursday 17 November and on Saturday, Israel’s acclaimed novelist Eli Amir, author of Farewell Baghdad, will be giving his personal recollections of his childhood in Iraq and his uprooting and absorption into Israel.

Next Sunday 20 November, David Project’s film, The Forgotten Refugees, will be premiering in London, detailing the flight of almost a million Jews from Arab countries, the loss of their rich Judeo-Arabic heritage and their absorption into Israel.

Harif’s Jews From Arab Countries Week runs from 14 to 20 November. For more information and full events listings, visit www.harif.org or call 00 44 7765 413 858

Read article in full

Update: Same article on Y-net News

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