2012 In Review
JIMENA produced and co-sponsored 75 educational and cultural events, directly engaging an estimated 10,000 individuals with the heritage and history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. As the issue of Jewish refugees began to break into mainstream discourse, JIMENA members received wide media attention in numerous national and international news outlets including: Associated Press, London Jewish Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Yad Vashem, San Francisco Chronicle, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Jewish Daily Forward, J Weekly and many others. Our Speakers Bureau led adult and student programs throughout California and in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Israel.
The program area that had the most significant growth in 2012 was our work on college campuses. JIMENA’s trained, eye-witness speakers led a variety of on-campus programming including (but not limited to): presentations at Foothill College’s Jewish Heritage Month and their International Night; a Mimouna Celebration and Persian Purim Party at Stanford Hillel; Forgotten Refugees screenings and advocacy trainings at UC San Diego, San Diego Hebrew Academy, University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, St. Anselm College, Netanya Academic College, and the Bay Area chapter of Write on for Israel; Mizrahi Shabbat programming at San Jose State University, UC Davis, San Francisco State University; and “Last Jews of Yemen” photo exhibit and program at Chico State Hillel.
2012 saw an increase in international attention towards the issue of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. New legislation in both Israel and the United States is advancing public awareness of Jewish refugees. At the request of the World Jewish Congress and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JIMENA participated at the Justice for Jewish Refugees conferences in Jerusalem and at the UN headquarters in New York. JIMENA’s President opened the conference by sharing her personal story and JIMENA’s Director led a workshop titled “Online and Student Engagement”. JIMENA was the only Mizrahi organization asked to participate in this important workshop, testifying to our unique role in the Jewish communal world.
In 2012 we initiated a new internship program, providing credited and stipend internships to a select group of students at UCLA, USC, UC San Diego, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, Yale, and Washington University. The interns created their own JIMENA themed project relevant to their course of study and each intern hosted an on-campus JIMENA event with a member of our Speakers Bureau. The program was a real success and is currently undergoing expansion and development.
JIMENA led adult educational and cultural programs in the Bay Area through our partnerships with numerous organizations including; Bureau of Jewish Education, Moishe House, BBYO, all of the Bay Area JCCs, The Israel Center, JCF, numerous synagogues and other organizations. Some of the more prestigious venues where our Speakers presented include: United Nations, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference, and Jewish Genealogical Conference. Our “Last Jews of Yemen” photo exhibit was displayed at the Oshman Family JCC, a large synagogue in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chico State. We led a Mimouna celebration at Temple Emanuel in addition to Stanford University.
In 2012 JIMENA actively outreached to the Bay Area’s Egyptian Coptic Community. In May 2012 we hosted an event at the San Francisco JCC about the plight of religious minorities in Egypt and Iran in light of the Arab Spring. The event, which was moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner Joel Brinkley, drew an estimated 75 individuals. Roughly half of the participants were from the Coptic community. Two of our Egyptian speakers led program on the Arab Spring and the contemporary challenges in North Africa at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa, Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, San Francisco JCC, Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, and Afikomen Judaica in the East Bay.
As the only North American organization representing all Jewish refugees from Arab countries, JIMENA regularly receive requests from government officials, media, educators, and Jewish lay-leaders for information and contacts. JIMENA’s Speakers Bureau continues to grow and in the last year we added six new members to the Bureau. As a result of the Arab Spring, our speakers presented new lectures, and drew attention to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Our Oral History and Website Implementation project took huge leaps and bounds last year as we implemented an additional five websites. During the grant period we collected testimonies from over 20 individuals and our central website received an average of 70,000 hits per month. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also incorporated our testimonies to their “I am A Refugee” campaign. Yad Vashem relied heavily on our North African sites for new educational materials they published. We received additional training and support from Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation Institute, Summit Pictures, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media, and Sephardic Voices UK.
In the last year, JIMENA added four new Executive Board Members and three new Advisory Board Members. Our 2012 donations increased by 40% from 2011.
JIMENA continues to work closely with a number of Jewish organizations throughout the Bay Area and nationally. Our partnerships help sustain our programming and foster our role as the central North American voice of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews – a group that truly represents the authentic diversity of the Jewish people. We continue to expand our reach and work with new organizations both nationally and internationally.
As the sole North American organization representing all Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, we have contributed a great deal to the understanding Jewish and Middle Eastern diversity. Some of our partners in 2012 include: World Jewish Congress, Hillel, Temple Emanuel, St. Antonius Coptic Church, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, J Weekly of Northern California, BlueStar, 30 Years After, Chabad, Israel Center, and Oshman Family JCC.