JIMENA Oral History Program & International Partnerships

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. For many participants, this is the first time they have talked openly about their experiences as Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

As an outgrowth of JIMENA’s Oral History Project, in 2012 JIMENA and Ben Gurion University launched a unique partnership 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 transcribe, catalogue and add 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. 

Part of the 2014 legislation stipulates that the history and culture of Jews from Arab countries and Iran must be more deeply and broadly integrated into Israel’s education system. As a result, Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of Jewish Peoplehood, is currently working with the Israel’s Ministry of Social Equality on its National Project for Documentation of the Heritage of Jewish Communities in Arab Countries and Iran on the development and distribution of a mobile application to collect the video recorded testimonies of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. Each testimony collected by students will be added to Israel’s National Collection, thus establishing one of the first large-scale national collections of testimonies of Jews from Arab countries and Iran.

With and investment and in full partnership with JIMENA, the new Oral History mobile application will be translated to English, so individuals in the United States can document and add testimonies to Israel’s National Collection. JIMENA will integrate the mobile application into its “Journey to the Mizrah” curriculum for Jewish Day Schools, which will be digitally distributed to every Jewish Day School in North America.

JIMENA Experience Websites

The JIMENA Experience website provides an educational, multi-lingual, on-line digital platform that presents the story of Mizrahi and Sephardic refugees in the first person. The project, composed of 11 country specific websites, in both English and Arabic, focuses on Jewish history, culture and displacement from the Middle East and North Africa. The sites serve as an online depository of select JIMENA Mizrahi and Sephardic Oral History testimonies and written narratives of our members. Each month JIMENA’s websites receive over 600,000 visits from around the world and we are dedicated to maintaining a strong and active online presence through social media and digital technologies.

“The JIMENA websites are a remarkable, and indeed unique, achievement that will help all those who realize that now is a last chance to capture the history of more than a quarter of a million Jewish refugees from Muslim lands. JIMENA ensures that their story of struggle and perseverance will be recorded and preserved for future generations. Jimena’s websites also include fascinating insights, photographs and mementos of one of the great branches of world Jewry, whose creativity and culture are one of the glories of the Jewish story.”
– Sir Martin Gilbert, Author & Winston Churchill’s official biographer

JIMENA Algerian Experience
JIMENA Egyptian Experience
JIMENA Iranian Experience
JIMENA Iraqi Experience
JIMENA Lebanese Experience
JIMENA Libyan Experience
JIMENA Moroccan Experience
JIMENA Syrian Experience
JIMENA Tunisian Experience
JIMENA Yemenite Experience

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