Activities and a Look Ahead

JIMENA International Successes in 2012-2013

Since the beginning of 2013, 40 members of JIMENA’s Speakers Bureau directly educated and empowered over 6,000 individuals at 70 events focused on preservation of Sephardic culture and justice for Jewish refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. Our speakers presented at numerous high-level meetings and conferences including: World Jewish Congress’s Conference in Budapest, the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jewish National Fund board meetings, National Council for Jewish Affairs meetings, BBYO meetings, Hadassah Luncheons, 30 Years After Conferences, and numerous universities.

As one of the very few North American organizations representing the 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, JIMENA’s speakers and ambassadors continue to play a vital role in international initiatives to advance the cause of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. In the past year, JIMENA speakers presented to high level audiences enabling us to fulfill our mission by reaching influential individuals including: members of the American Congress, Canadian Parliamentary members, leading international human rights attorneys, members of Knesset, and top international journalists. By utilizing social media and through our partnerships with Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post, we reached thousands of new individuals. For the first time ever, our speakers presented to film festivals and college classrooms via Skype, thus enabling us to reach audiences in geographically isolated places.  Efforts are

Efforts are currently taking place on various levels to ensure the Iraqi Jewish archive is re-appropriated to it’s rightful owners – Iraqi Jews and their descendents

JIMENA on College Campuses, 2012-2013

In 2013, JIMENA Speakers produced educational and engagement events at the following Universities: University of California Santa Cruz, Stanford University, Central European University, University of Illinois in Chicago, University of Michigan, Lehigh University, San Francisco State University, University of California Berkeley, Virginia Commonwealth University, Arizona State University, UCLA, Foothill College, Columbia University, Harvard, Princeton, American University, Brooklyn College and USC.  At certain Universities, like Stanford and UC Berkeley, JIMENA led a multiple programs throughout the year.  In addition to our work on college campuses, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited JIMENA to serve on an educational panel to provide our expertise on how to use the JIMENA narrative in college classrooms and advocacy campaigns. JIMENA oversaw the work of ten student interns.

Highlights from the last year include, leading an educational engagement day for student governors at UC Berkeley, co-producing a week of Sephardic programming at Stanford, leading Israel advocacy programming at UC Berkeley, and connecting University groups and students to JIMENA Speakers through Skype and other digital technologies. Perhaps our biggest achievement is that JIMENA Speakers empowered a number of Sephardic and Mizrahi students to preserve and share their own family histories and culture by organizing events and programs for their respective communities. Our interns continued to help implement JIMENA’s on-campus activities.

JIMENA in the Community, 2012-2013

This past year JIMENA speakers and staff led educational programming for a variety of organizations including: National Council for Jewish Women, BBYO, Palo Alto JCC, Congregation Beth Israel, Carmel, Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Kahal Joseph, Limmud Bay Area, San Francisco JCC,  CAMERA, Marin JCC, Chabad, Congregation Shir Hadash, and all of our local Universities to name a few. We continued our Young Adult Mimouna Celebrations at Temple Emanu-El, which drew 300 young adults and we sponsored a Mimouna at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley. We continued our our close engagement and cooperation with Northern California’s Coptic Community.

Completion of the JIMENA Experience Website Program, 2012-2013

In February 2013 JIMENA launched eleven, multi-lingual country websites and a new central website, www.jimena.org.  Since the launch of the project, online traffic to JIMENA’s websites has increased by 153% and our central site is receiving over 150,000 hits each month from around the world.

Since JIMENA launched its Digital Experience Website Project we have become a leading resource center for journalists, students, scholars, filmmakers, and activists seeking further information related to Jews from Arab countries. From the UAE, to Libya, Egypt, Germany, Brazil, and Russia, individuals from around the world have reached out to JIMENA to praise our websites and request additional resources. The sites have been recognized by international news outlets a including JTA, Ynet News, Jewish Chronicle of London, European Jewish Congress, Masress: Egyptian News, In Focus news, Tunisia Newswire, Christian Broadcasting News, Times of Israel, and many others.

JIMENA Oral History, 2012-2013

In addition to traditional media, in the last year JIMENA launched it’s Times of Israel blog project and our Jerusalem Post, Voice of Jewish Refugees blog. Our Jerusalem Post blog features weekly abstract testimonies and video clips from our Oral History archive. Our goal is to make the testimonies accessible to a wide audience and we continue utilizing social media to share the personal stories of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East.

JIMENA began it’s partnership with Hebrew University, which stipulates that every JIMENA testimony will be archived in a special catalogue, within the Oral History archive of Hebrew University’s Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry. JIMENA continues being guided by USC Shoah Foundation Institute and other experts in the field.

Looking Forward: 2013 – 2014 and Beyond – New Projects and building on our growth

Student Outreach and Young Adult Leadership Fellowship Program

In the coming year, we plan to continue our ongoing campus outreach and education campaigns. We have been recruited JIMENA student interns for the 2013 academic year, and we have also started a new film and media internship for the Oral History and Digital Experience Project. This summer we have an intern creating a film using JIMENA Oral History footage and photos. Our goal is for JIMENA Speakers to visit 20 college campuses in the next academic year – leading a range of educational, cultural, and advocacy programs.

In addition to our work on college campuses, JIMENA would like to create a Young Adult Fellowship project. While we are still drafting plans for this new initiative – which has been spearheaded by a young JIMENA volunteer. The goal is to recruit 5-10 young professionals and provide them with engaging leadership development workshops, led by a variety of Mizrahi and Sephardic Bay Area professionals and communal leaders. Each fellow will be responsible for launching their own JIMENA themed project.  This program aims to cultivate young adults into Sephardic ambassadors and contributing members of San Francisco’s Jewish community.

Digital Experience Curriculum Project

As the websites continue expanding, we would like to work with professional educators in creating curriculum for each website. Using a model similar to Steven Spielberg’s, IWitness, we would like to develop digital educational tools, multimedia activities, and interactive features that will utilize content of the websites for High Schools and colleges in North America and abroad.  While the Internet is filled with various Jewish themed curriculum, there are no resources devoted exclusively to the Sephardic and Mizrahi experience. Ideally, such resources will be available in English, Hebrew, Arabic, and French.

JIMENA in the International Agenda

In the last year JIMENA received a 100% increase in requests for our involvement in a number of high-level meetings, conferences, and joint campaigns on the subject of Jewish refugees. Our role in the international advancement of Jewish refugees has become a project of its own and we need to able to ensure our availability and participation in all international activities involving Jewish refugees from Arab countries. We need to ensure that JIMENA staff, board, and speakers are present at all international and national meetings on the subject, that every representative we meet receives educational collateral on the subject, that we have the resources to collect claims, that our speakers are properly trained and ready to provide testimony, and that we can contribute to all international campaigns on the issue.

Publicity and Outreach – Mizrahi Media Core

JIMENA would like to launch a full-scale media campaign, in both North America and the Middle East, to continue promotion of the websites and JIMENA as a resource for information and programs related to Jews from Arab countries. JIMENA would like to continue reaching new audiences through various social and traditional media channels. We would like to get a Mizrahi celebrity voice behind a media campaign and utilize our rich content to educate audiences around the world.

JIMENA would like to recruit and train a core group of 5-10 Arabic speaking Mizrahi individuals who are willing and able to outreach to progressive media and non-profits in North Africa and the Middle East.  By hiring a bi-lingual coordinator and working with organizations like the Israel Project, we hope to educate audiences in North Africa and the Middle East on the forgotten history of Jews from the region.

Oral History Repository and Archive

JIMENA’s Oral History archive currently has over 350 hours of footage collected from 80 testimonies. We see our archive as an invaluable resource to academic institutions, non-profit organizations and the general publish. JIMENA would like to use the websites as an online repository available to all individuals and organizations. As education is part of our mission, we would like numerous wide distribution channels for each testimony we have collected. We need a great deal of resources to put each testimony online.

In addition, we would like to start honoring those who have participated by featuring small movies and clips at select synagogues throughought California. This will enable us to reach new audiences and recruit individuals for the project.

Digital Development

We are very pleased with the “first draft” of the websites and will continue to add content to each site. We are hoping to finish and improve the Arabic translation within each site and add French and Hebrew translations. Each website will require ongoing maintenance and management to ensure the quality of the content. As JIMENA continues expanding it’s archives and programs the websites will need to be updated and expanded upon periodically. Our goal is for the websites to be the epicenter for the collections of documents related to Jewish refugees.

JIMENA Experience Museum Exhibition

While the websites are content rich and will continue to develop, we would like to create a real-life exhibition using content from JIMENA’s archives. Ideally, such an exhibition will be digital, interactive, and scalable. We hope it will include Oral History testimonies, Sephardic and Mizrahi artifacts from our member’s collections, and educational pieces telling the story of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East through photography, art, and poetry. It would be wonderful to have a scholarly lecture series and concerts around such an exhibition.