Great future planned for Yemenite town

Long feature in the Jerusalem Post about Rosh Ha’ayin, a town in Israel with a distinctive Yemenite cultural flavour:

“From a transit camp for Yemenite immigrants brought here in Operation On the Wings of Eagles, to a small metropolis a short distance from every major city in the center of the country, Rosh Ha’ayin is on the cusp of flowering into a comfortable and desirable place with a unique cultural flavor.(…)

“On the corner of Shabazi and Wolfson streets in the center of the original neighborhoods stands a barracks erected by the British during the Mandate. In a sign of the importance history has to the Yemenite community, the building has become the Yemenite Jewish Heritage House of Rosh Ha’ayin.

“Naftali Simhi, its chairman, has the swarthy skin common to Yemenites and a startlingly bright smile which he is not shy to unleash on visiting reporters.

“I think everyone one has a little warm part of their soul which is Yemenite and I want to open it and develop it,” he said while sitting in his office at the Heritage House. A building engineer by trade, he serves purely on a volunteer basis.

“Simhi is convinced that much of Israeli culture has derived from the traditions that the Yemenite community zealously protected throughout its exile.

“The Yemenite community had the most cohesive tradition of any exiled community. You know the new Madonna song? It opens with a Yemenite tune. You cannot have an Israeli dance without a Yemenite step in it,” he said cordially but emphatically.

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