Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU to feature program on 'forgotten Jews' from Arab lands


CONTACT: Dr. Nathan Katz, Academic Director of Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU 305-348-3909 or

Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU to feature program on 'forgotten Jews' from Arab lands

Many are familiar with the recorded testimonies taken of Holocaust survivors, an ambitious effort initiated by filmmaker Steven Spielberg after he made the movie, Schindler’s List, to chronicle firsthand accounts of persecuted European Jews.

Yet, little is still known about the nearly one million Jews of North African, Middle Eastern and Iranian decent, known as Sephardi Jews, who were expelled or forced to flee their homes in the 1940s.

Henry Green wants to change that. The University of Miami religious studies professor is spearheading a project to draw attention to Sephardi Jews who became refugees after they were uprooted from their communities, lost their citizenship and within a half-century had all but disappeared from their ancestral homes.

Wanting to literally give voice to this forgotten community, Green calls his audiovisual history project “Sephardi Voices.” Begun in 2009, “Sephardi Voices” has archived subjects’ stories of displacement, fractured identities, material losses, relocation and integration in new societies where they eventually settled. Some 250 testimonies have been collected by research teams in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Jerusalem, with a goal to collect 5,000 over the next five years.

But Green knows he must work fast. With his now-elderly subjects’ “memories fading and others passing on each day,” he said, “this project offers the last chance to save and document this irretrievable period of Jewish history that stretches back to the prophet Jeremiah, the writings of the Talmud, and Maimonides.”

Green will present “Sephardi Voices: Stories of Jews from Arab Lands,” including an overview of the project and introducing witnesses to tell their stories, at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. The program will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 at the museum, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. It is free and open to the public.

A program of FIU’s Jewish Studies Initiatives, it is sponsored by the President Navon Professor of Sephardic-Mizrahi Studies.

For more information, contact the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU at 786-972-3175 or

# # #