JIMENA partners Israel in oral history project

Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) has announced a new
partnership program with Israel’s Ministry of Social Equality (MSE),
Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of Jewish Peoplehood, and Ben Gurion
University (BGU), to produce a comprehensive collection of Oral History
testimonies of Jews from Arab countries and Iran. (With thanks: Tony, Carol)

Yemenite children in an Israeli transit camp in 1949


Beginning in 2010, JIMENA launched an Oral History Program in
California to record and preserve the memories of Jews born in the Arab
world and Iran. Inspired and guided by Steven Spielberg’s Shoah
Foundation Institute, the project gives former Mizrahi and Sephardic
refugees an opportunity to assert and preserve their personal histories
and rich traditions in the countries their ancestors lived for over
2,500 years. JIMENA witnesses document their stories of positive
memories as well as human rights abuses, displacement and integration in
new societies.

As an outgrowth of that Oral History Project, JIMENA and BGU launched
a unique partnership in 2012 to ensure JIMENA’s significant collection
of testimonies is shared with scholars and preserved in perpetuity.
International Graduate Students at The Ben-Gurion Research Institute for
the Study of Israel and Zionism diligently transcribed, cataloged and
added JIMENA’s Oral History collection to The Ben Gurion Archives, where
it now proudly resides.

As part of Israel’s 2014 legislation to recognize and advance the
history and heritage of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, in 2016
Israel’s Ministry of Social Equality allocated $2.6 million dollars to
launch a robust national initiative to collect video recorded
testimonies of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. JIMENA and Israel’s Ministry
of Social Equality pledged resources and support to train BGU students
to collect testimonies to add to Israel’s National Collection and
JIMENA’s Oral History collection at Ben Gurion University.

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