Nina Weiner’s Mizrahi elite

Nina Weiner is a remarkable woman who has devoted her life to bridging the gap between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel. Haaretz reports (with thanks: Albert):

Nina Weiner lives in New York and belongs to what is known there as “high society” and is a regular visitor to the finest homes, but her life story is intertwined with the story of the Mizrahim in Israel. She was born in Egypt’s Alexandria to parents who emigrated from Israel in the ’20s to escape the economic hardship of the time. Her father, Reuven Perlmutter, immigrated as a pioneer from the Ukraine; her mother, Yona Papo, was born in Rishon Letzion, the daughter of a Sephardic Jew from Bulgaria, and among the graduates of the legendary first class of Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya. In October 1948 they returned from Egypt to Israel. Their daughter finished high school in Israel, and in 1954 she went to study psychology at the University of Geneva.

“Her first encounter with the plight of North African Jewry took place in Europe. One of the Israelis at the university in Geneva, renowned psychologist Reuven Feuerstein, was doing research on children who stayed at the transition camps run by Youth Aliyah in Southern France. He put her on his research team and she accompanied him on his travels there.

“I saw many shocking things,” she says. “Parentless children who arrived there in a terrible state of neglect and abandonment.” When Weiner concluded her studies and came back to Israel, she continued working with Feuerstein in Youth Aliyah, and was exposed to the gaps between ethnic groups in Israel.

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