JIMENA, the California-based organisation representing Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, has launched Journey to the Mizrah, a curriculum and website designed to educate middle and high school students in Sephardic Studies.
To date, JIMENA says, the study of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish heritage, Jewish multiculturalism, and the ethnic diversity of the Jewish people has not been integrated as a regular component of Jewish education in the USA. Despite the fact that over 50% of Israeli Jews and an estimated 20% of American Jews identify as Mizrahi and Sephardic, most North American Jewish educators are unprepared to teach these subjects, it claims.
Anecdotally, JIMENA believes that one in four students at the Jewish Community High School of the San Francisco Bay identifies as Sephardic through a parent or grandparent. Sephardic students are becoming an increasing majority at Jewish Day Schools in Los Angeles and New York.
The curriculum was created for formal and informal Jewish education institutions using ‘traditional Sephardic pedagogy’. Designed and written for middle schools, but easily adapted for high schools, the Journey to the Mizrah curriculum includes twelve lesson plans that incorporate text study, discussion and immersive Sephardic and Mizrahi activities such as Mimouna, Piyutim, Henna, and storytelling.