Descendants of local Jewish populations in North Africa and the Middle East
Too few people know that parts of the Arab world and Iran were once home to large Jewish communities. This Mizrahi Heritage Month, let's change the story, with the final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, the first-ever narrative podcast series devoted exclusively to the rich, fascinating, and often-overlooked history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewry. Thank you for lifting up these stories to celebrate Mizrahi Heritage Month. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to listen to the rest of The Forgotten Exodus, wherever you get your podcasts. __ Home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, the story of Jews in Iran has been one of prosperity and suffering through the millennia. During the mid-20th century, when Jews were being driven from their homes in Arab lands, Iran assisted Jewish refugees in providing safe passage to Israel. Under the Shah, Israel was an important economic and political ally. Yet that all swiftly changed in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ushered in Islamic rule, while chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” rang out from the streets of Tehran. Author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian shares her personal story of growing up Jewish in Iran during the reign of the Shah and then Ayatollah Khomeini, which she wrote about in her memoir Journey From the Land of No. Joining Hakakian is Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history who wrote From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of AJC Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. In this sixth and final episode of the season, the Hakakian family's saga captures the common thread that has run throughout this series – when the history of an uprooted community is left untold, it can become vulnerable to others' narratives and assumptions, or become lost forever and forgotten. How do you leave behind a beloved homeland, safeguard its Jewish legacy, and figure out where you belong? __ Show notes: Listen to The Forgotten Exodus and sign up to receive updates about future episodes. Song credits: Chag Purim · The Jewish Guitar Project Hevenu Shalom · Violin Heart Pond5: “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Oud Nation”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Haygaz Yossoulkanian (BMI), IPI#1001905418 “Persian”: Publisher: STUDEO88; Composer: Siddhartha Sharma “Meditative Middle Eastern Flute”: Publisher: N/; Composer: DANIELYAN ASHOT MAKICHEVICH (IPI NAME #00855552512), UNITED STATES BMI Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Persian Investigative Mystery”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Peter Cole (BMI), IPI#679735384 “Persian Wind”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Sigma (SESAC); Composer: Abbas Premjee (SESAC), IPI#572363837 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Persian Fantasy Tavern”: Publisher: N/A; Composer: John Hoge “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. ___ Episode Transcript: ROYA HAKAKIAN: In 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. When I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them. MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus. Today's episode: Leaving Iran MANYA: Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. Yes, the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2022. Though there is no official census, experts estimate about 10,000 Jews now live in the region previously known as Persia. But since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Jews in Iran don't advertise their Jewish identity. They adhere to Iran's morality code: women stay veiled from head to toe and men and women who aren't married or related stay apart in public. They don't express support for Israel, they don't ask questions, and they don't disagree with the regime. One might ask, with all these don'ts, is this a way of living a Jewish life? Or a way to live – period? For author, journalist, and poet Roya Hakakian and her family, the answer was ultimately no. Roya has devoted her life to being a fact-finder and truth-teller. A former associate producer at the CBS news show 60 Minutes and a Guggenheim Fellow, Roya has written two volumes of poetry in Persian and three books of nonfiction in English, the first of which was published in 2004 – Journey From the Land of No, a memoir about her charmed childhood and accursed adolescence growing up Jewish in Iran under two different regimes. ROYA: It was hugely important for me to create an account that could be relied on as a historic document. And I did my best through being very, very careful about gathering, interviewing, talking to, observing facts, evidence, documents from everyone, including my most immediate members of my family, to do what we, both as reporters, but also as Jews, are called to do, which is to bear witness. No seemed to be the backdrop of life for women, especially of religious minorities, and, in my own case, Jewish background, and so I thought, what better way to name the book than to call it as what my experience had been, which was the constant nos that I heard. So, Land of No was Iran. MANYA: As a journalist, as a Jew, as a daughter of Iran, Roya will not accept no for an answer. After publishing her memoir, she went on to write Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, a meticulously reported book about a widely underreported incident. In 1992 at a Berlin restaurant, a terrorist attack by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah targeted and killed four Iranian-Kurdish exiles. The book highlighted Iran's enormous global footprint made possible by its terror proxies who don't let international borders get in the way of silencing Iran's critics. Roya also co-founded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an independent non-profit that reports on Iran's human rights abuses. Her work has not prompted Ayatollah Khameini to publicly issue a fatwa against her – like the murder order against Salman Rushdie issued by his predecessor. But in 2019, one of her teenage sons answered a knock at the door. It was the FBI, warning her that she was in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime's operatives in America. Most recently, Roya wrote A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious about the emotional roller coaster of arriving in America while still missing a beloved homeland, especially one where their community has endured for thousands of years. ROYA: I felt very strongly that one stays in one's homeland, that you don't just simply take off when things go wrong, that you stick around and try to figure a way through a bad situation. We came to the point where staying didn't seem like it would lead to any sort of real life and leaving was the only option. MANYA: The story of Jews in Iran, often referred to as Persia until 1935, is a millennia-long tale. A saga of suffering, repression, and persecution, peppered with brief moments of relief or at least relative peace – as long as everyone plays by the rules of the regime. SABA SOOMEKH: The history of Jews in Iran goes back to around 2,700 years ago. And a lot of people assume that Jews came to Iran, well at that time, it was called the Persian Empire, in 586 BCE, with the Babylonian exile. But Jews actually came a lot earlier, we're thinking 721-722 BCE with the Assyrian exile which makes us one of the oldest Jewish communities. MANYA: That's Dr. Saba Soomekh, a professor of world religions and Middle Eastern history and the author of From the Shahs to Los Angeles: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women between Religion and Culture. She also serves as associate director of American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles, home to America's largest concentration of Persian Jewish immigrants. Saba's parents fled Iran in 1978, shortly before the revolution, when Saba and her sister were toddlers. She has devoted her career to preserving Iranian Jewish history. Saba said Zoroastrian rulers until the 7th Century Common Era vacillated between tolerance and persecution of Jews. For example, according to the biblical account in the Book of Ezra, Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian rule, granted all of them citizenship, and permitted them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple. The Book of Esther goes on to tell the story of another Persian king, believed to be Xerxes I, whose closest adviser called Haman conspires to murder all the Jews – a plot that is foiled by his wife Queen Esther who is Jewish herself. Esther heroically pleads for mercy on behalf of her people – a valor that is celebrated on the Jewish holiday of Purim. But by the time of the Islamic conquest in the middle of the 7th Century Common Era, the persecution had become so intense that Jews were hopeful about the new Arab Muslim regime, even if that meant being tolerated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmi status. But that status had a different interpretation for the Safavids. SABA: Really things didn't get bad for the Jews of the Persian Empire until the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty, because within Shia Islam in the Persian Empire, what they brought with them is this understanding of purity and impurity. And Jews were placed in the same category as dogs, pigs, and feces. They were seen as being religiously impure, what's referred to as najes. MANYA: Jews were placed in ghettos called mahaleh, where they wore yellow stars and special shoes to distinguish them from the rest of the population. They could not leave the mahaleh when it rained for fear that if water rolled off their bodies into the water system, it would render a Shia Muslim impure. For the same reason, they could not go to the bazaars for fear they might contaminate the food. They could not look Muslims in the eye. They were relegated to certain artisanal professions such as silversmithing and block printing – crafts that dirtied one's hands. MANYA: By the 19th century, some European Jews did make their way to Persia to help. The Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based network of schools founded by French Jewish intellectuals, opened schools for Jewish children throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including within the mahalehs in Persia. SABA: They saw themselves as being incredibly sophisticated because they were getting this, in a sense, secular European education, they were speaking French. The idea behind the Allianz schools was exactly that. These poor Middle Eastern Jews, one day the world is going to open up to them, their countries are going to become secular, and we need to prepare them for this, not only within the context of hygiene, but education, language. And the Allianz schools were right when it came to the Persian Empire because who came into power was Reza Pahlavi, who was a Francophile. And he turned around and said, ‘Wow! Look at the population that speaks French, that knows European philosophy, etc. are the Jews.' He brought them out of the mahaleh, the Jewish ghettos, and said ‘I don't care about religion. Assimilate and acculturate. As long as you show, in a sense, devotion, and nationalism to the Pahlavi regime, which the Jews did—not all Jews—but a majority of them did. MANYA: Reza Pahlavi took control in 1925 and 16 years later, abdicated his throne to his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1935, Persia adopted a new name: Iran. As king or the Shah, both father and son set Iran on a course of secularization and rapid modernization under which Jewish life and success seemed to flourish. The only condition was that religious observance was kept behind closed doors. SABA: The idea was that in public, you were secular and in private, you were a Jew. You had Shabbat, you only married a Jew, it was considered blasphemous if you married outside of the Jewish community. And it was happening because people were becoming a part of everyday schools, universities. But that's why the Jewish day schools became so important. They weren't learning Judaism. What it did was ensure that in a secular Muslim society, that the Jewish kids were marrying within each other and within the community. It was, in a sense, the Golden Age. And that will explain to you why, unlike the early 1950s, where you had this exodus of Mizrahi Jews, Arab Jews from the Arab world and North Africa, you didn't really have that in Iran. MANYA: In fact, Iran provided a safe passage to Israel for Jewish refugees during that exodus, specifically those fleeing Iraq. The Pahlavi regime considered Israel a critical ally in the face of pan-Arab fervor and hostility in the region. Because of the Arab economic boycott, Israel needed energy sources and Iran needed customers for its oil exports. A number of Israelis even moved to Tehran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture, and doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital who had come to teach medicine. El Al flew in and out of Tehran airport, albeit from a separate terminal. Taking advantage of these warm relations between the two countries, Roya recalls visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins in Israel. ROYA: We arrived, and my mom and dad did what all visiting Jews from elsewhere do. They dropped to their knees, and they started kissing the ground. I did the same, and it was so moving. Israel was the promised land, we thought about Israel, we dreamed about Israel. But, at the same time, we were Iranians and, and we were living in Iran, and things were good. This seems to non-Iranian Jews an impossibility. But I think for most of us, it was the way things were. We lived in the country where we had lived for, God knows how many years, and there was this other place that we somehow, in the back of our minds thought we would be going to, without knowing exactly when, but that it would be the destination. MANYA: Relations between the Shah and America flourished as well. In 1951, a hugely popular politician by the name of Mohammad Mosaddegh became prime minister and tried to institute reforms. His attempts to nationalize the oil industry and reduce the monarchy's authority didn't go over well. American and British intelligence backed a coup that restored the Shah's power. Many Iranians resented America's meddling, which became a rallying cry for the revolution. U.S. officials have since expressed regret for the CIA's involvement. In November 1977, President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Shah and his wife to Washington, D.C., to discuss peace between Egypt and Israel, nuclear nonproliferation, and the energy crisis. As an extension of these warm relations, the Shah sent many young Iranians to America to enhance their university studies, exposing them to Western ideals and values. Meanwhile, a savvy fundamentalist cleric was biding his time in a Paris basement. It wouldn't be long before relations crumbled between Iran and Israel, Iran and the U.S,. and Iran and its Jews. Roya recalls the Hakakian house at the corner of Alley of the Distinguished in Tehran as a lush oasis surrounded by fragrant flowers, full of her father's poetry, and brimming with family memories. Located in the heart of a trendy neighborhood, across the street from the Shah's charity organization, the tall juniper trees, fragrant honeysuckle, and gold mezuzah mounted on the door frame set it apart from the rest of the homes. Roya's father, Haghnazar, was a poet and a respected headmaster at a Hebrew school. Roya, which means dream in Persian, was a budding poet herself with the typical hopes and dreams of a Jewish teenage girl. ROYA: Prior to the revolution, life in an average Tehran Hebrew Day School looked very much like life in a Hebrew Day School anywhere else. In the afternoons we had all Hebrew and Jewish studies. We used to put on a Purim show every year. I wanted to be Esther. I never got to be Esther. We had emissaries, I think a couple of years, from Israel, who came to teach us how to do Israeli folk dance. MANYA: There were moments when Roya recalls feeling self-conscious about her Jewishness, particularly at Passover. That's when the family spent two weeks cleaning, demonstrating they weren't najes, or dirty Jews. The work was rewarded when the house filled with the fragrance of cumin and saffron and Persian dishes flowed from the kitchen, including apple and plum beef stew, tarragon veal balls stuffed with raisins, and rice garnished with currants and slivers of almonds. When her oldest brother Alberto left to study in America, a little fact-finding work on Roya's part revealed that his departure wasn't simply the pursuit of a promising opportunity. As a talented cartoonist whose work had been showcased during an exhibition in Tehran, his family feared Alberto's pen might have gone too far, offending the Pahlavi regime and drawing the attention of the Shah's secret police. Reports of repression, rapid modernization, the wide gap between Tehran's rich and the rest of the country's poor, and a feeling that Iranians weren't in control of their own destiny all became ingredients for a revolution, stoked by an exiled cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini who was recording cassette tapes in a Paris basement and circulating them back home. SABA: He would just sit there and go on and on for hours, going against the Shah and West toxification. And then the recordings ended up in Iran. He wasn't even in Iran until the Shah left. MANYA: Promises of democracy and equality galvanized Iranians of all ages to overthrow the Shah in February 1979. Even the CIA was surprised. SABA: I think a lot of people didn't believe it. Because number one, the Shah, the son, was getting the most amount of military equipment from the United States than anyone in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. And the idea was: you protect us in the Gulf, and we will give you whatever you need. So they never thought that a man with a beard down to his knee was able to overthrow this regime that was being propped up and supported by America, and also the Europeans. Khomeini comes in and represents himself as a person for everyone. And he was brilliant in the way he spoke about it. And the reason why this revolution was also successful was that it wasn't just religious people who supported Khomeini, there was this concept you had, the men with the turbans, meaning the religious people, and the you know, the bow ties or the ties, meaning the secular man, a lot of them who were sent by the Shah abroad to Europe and America to get an education, who came back, saw democracy there, and wanted it for their country. MANYA: Very few of the revolutionaries could predict that Tehran was headed in the opposite direction and was about to revert to 16th Century Shia Islamic rule. For almost a year, Tehran and the rest of the nation were swept up in revolutionary euphoria. Roya recalls how the flag remained green, white, and red, but an Allah insignia replaced its old sword-bearing lion. New currency was printed, with portraits bearing beards and turbans. An ode to Khomeini became the new national anthem. While the Shah had escaped on an Air France flight, corpses of his henchmen graced the front pages of newspapers alongside smiling executioners. All celebrated, until the day one of the corpses was Habib Elghanian, the Jewish philanthropist who supported all of Iran's Hebrew schools. Charged and convicted as a Zionist spy. Elders in the community remembered the insurmountable accusations of blood libel during darker times for Iran's Jews. But younger generations like Roya's, who had not lived through the eras of more ruthless antisemitism and persecution, continued to root for the revolution, regardless of its victims. Meanwhile, Roya's Jewish day school was taken over by a new veiled headmistress who replaced Hebrew lessons with other kinds of religious instruction, and required robes and headscarves for all the students. ROYA: In the afternoons, from then on, we used to have lessons in a series of what she called: ‘Is religion something that you inherit, or is it something that you choose?' And so I think the intention, clearly, was to convince us that we didn't need to inherit our religions from our parents and ancestors, that we ought to consider better choices. MANYA: But when the headmistress cut short the eight-day Passover break, that was the last straw for Roya and her classmates. Their revolt got her expelled from school. Though Jews did not universally support Khomeini, some saw themselves as members of the Iranian Communist, or Tudeh Party. They opposed the Shah and the human rights abuses of his monarchy and cautiously considered Khomeini the better option, or at least the lesser of two evils. Alarmed by the developments such as Elghanian's execution and changes like the ones at Roya's school, Jewish community leaders traveled to the Shia holy city of Qom to assure the Supreme Leader of their loyalty to Iran. SABA: They did this because they wanted to make sure that they protected the Jewish community that was left in Iran. Khomeini made that distinction: ‘I am not against Jews, I'm against Zionists. You could be Jewish in this country. You cannot be a Zionist in this country.' MANYA: But that wasn't the only change. Right away, the Family Protection Law was reversed, lifting a law against polygamy, giving men full rights in divorce and custody, and lowering the marriage age for girls to nine. Women were banned from serving as judges, and beaches and sports events were segregated by gender. But it took longer to shut down universities, albeit for only two years, segregate public schools by gender, and stone to death women who were found to have committed adultery. Though Khomeini was certainly proving that he was not the man he promised to be, he backed away from those promises gradually – one brutal crackdown at a time. As a result, the trickle of Jews out of Iran was slow. ROYA: My father thought, let's wait a few years and see what happens. In retrospect, I think the overwhelming reason was probably that nobody believed that things had changed, and so drastically. It seemed so unbelievable. I mean, a country that had been under monarchy for 2,500 years, couldn't simply see it all go and have a whole new system put in place, especially when it was such a radical shift from what had been there before. So I think, in many ways, we were among the unbelievers, or at least my father was, we thought it could never be, it would not happen. My father proved to be wrong, nothing changed for the better, and the conditions continued to deteriorate. So, so much catastrophe happened in those few years that Iran just simply was steeped into a very dark, intense, and period of political radicalism and also, all sorts of economic shortages and pressures. And so the five years that we were left behind, that we stayed back, changed our perspective on so many things. MANYA: In November 1979, a group of radical university students who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seized hostages, and held them for 444 days until President Ronald Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981. During the hostages' captivity, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The conflict that ensued for eight years created shortages on everything from dairy products to sanitary napkins. Mosques became distribution centers for rations. ROYA: We stood in line for hours and hours for eggs, and just the very basic things of daily life. And then it became also clear that religious minorities, including Jews, would no longer be enjoying the same privileges as everyone else. There were bombings that kept coming closer and closer to Tehran, which is where we lived. It was very clear that half of my family that was in the United States could not and would not return, because they were boys who would have been conscripted to go to war. Everything had just come apart in a way that was inconceivable to think that they would change for the better again. MANYA: By 1983, new laws had been passed instituting Islamic dress for all women – violations of which earned a penalty of 74 lashes. Other laws imposed an Islamic morality code that barred co-ed gatherings. Roya and her friends found refuge in the sterile office building that housed the Jewish Iranian Students Association. But she soon figured out that the regime hadn't allowed it to remain for the benefit of the Jewish community. It functioned more like a ghetto to keep Jews off the streets and out of their way. Even the activities that previously gave her comfort were marred by the regime. Poetry books were redacted. Mountain hiking trails were arbitrarily closed to mourn the deaths of countless clerics. SABA: Slowly what they realize, when Khomeini gained power, was that he was not the person that he claimed to be. He was not this feminist, if anything, all this misogynistic rule came in, and a lot of people realize they, in a sense, got duped and he stole the revolution from them. MANYA: By 1984, the war with Iraq had entered its fourth year. But it was no longer about protecting Iran from Saddam Hussein. Now the Ayatollah wanted to conquer Baghdad, then Jerusalem where he aspired to deliver a sermon from the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim soldiers wounded in the war chose to bleed rather than receive treatment from Jewish doctors. Boys as young as 12 – regardless of faith – were drafted and sent on suicide missions to open the way for Iranian troops to do battle. SABA: They were basically used as an army of children that the bombs would detonate, their parents would get a plastic key that was the key to heaven. And the bombs would detonate, and then the army would come in Iranian army would come in. And so that's when a lot of the Persian parents, the Jewish parents freaked out. And that's when they were like: we're getting out of here. MANYA: By this time, the Hakakian family had moved into a rented apartment building and Roya was attending the neighborhood school. Non-Muslim students were required to take Koran classes and could only use designated water fountains and bathrooms. As a precaution, Roya's father submitted their passports for renewal. Her mother's application was denied; Roya's passport was held for further consideration; her father's was confiscated. One night, Roya returned home to find her father burning her books and journals on the balcony of their building. The bonfire of words was for the best, he told her. And at long last, so was leaving. With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Roya and her mother, Helen, fled to Geneva, and after wandering in Europe for several months, eventually reunited with her brothers in the United States. Roya did not see her father again for five years. Still unable to acquire a passport, he was smuggled out of Iran into Pakistan, on foot. ROYA: My eldest brother left to come to America in the mid-70s. There was a crack in the body of the family then. But then came 1979, and my two other brothers followed. And so we were apart for all those very, very formative years. And then, in 1984, when my mother and I left and my father was left alone in Iran, that was yet another major dramatic and traumatic separation. So, you know, it's interesting that when I look back at the events of 1979, I think, people constantly think about the revolution having, in some ways, blown up Tehran, but it also blew up families. And my own family was among them. MANYA: While her father's arrival in America was delayed, Roya describes her arrival in stages. She first arrived as a Jewish refugee in 1985 and found her place doing what she had always done – writing in Persian – rebuilding a body of work that had been reduced to ashes. ROYA: As a teen I had become a writer, people were encouraging me. So, I continued to do it. It was the thing I knew how to do. And it gave me a sense of grounding and identity. So, I kept on doing it, and it kind of worked its magic, as I suppose good writing does for all writers. It connected me to a new community of people who read Persian and who appreciated what I was trying to do. And I found that with each book that I write, I find a new tribe for myself. MANYA: She arrived again once she learned English. In her first year at Brooklyn College, she tape-recorded her professors to listen again later. She eventually took a course with renowned poet Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry was best known for its condemnation of persecution and imperial politics and whose 1950s poem “Howl” tested the boundaries of America's freedom of speech. ROYA: When I mastered the language enough to feel comfortable to be a writer once more, then I found a footing and through Allen and a community of literary people that I met here began to kind of foresee a possibility of writing in English. MANYA: There was also her arrival to an American Jewish community that was largely unaware of the role Jews played in shaping Iran long before the advent of Islam. Likewise, they were just as unaware of the role Iran played in shaping ancient Jewish life. They were oblivious to the community's traditions, and the indignities and abuses Iranian Jews had suffered, continue to suffer, with other religious minorities to keep those traditions alive in their homeland. ROYA: People would say, ‘Oh, you have an accent, where are you from?' I would say, ‘Iran,' and the Jews at the synagogue would say, ‘Are there Jews in Iran?' MANYA: In Roya's most recent book A Beginner's Guide to America, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, she reflects on the lessons learned and the observations made once she arrived in the U.S. She counsels newcomers to take their time answering what might at first seem like an ominous or loaded question. Here's an excerpt: ROYA: “In the early days after your arrival, “Where are you from?” is above all a reminder of your unpreparedness to speak of the past. You have yet to shape your story – what you saw, why you left, how you left, and what it took to get here. This narrative is your personal Book of Genesis: the American Volume, the one you will sooner or later pen, in the mind, if not on the page. You must take your time to do it well and do it justice.” MANYA: No two immigrants' experiences are the same, she writes. The only thing they all have in common is that they have been uprooted and the stories of their displacement have been hijacked by others' assumptions and agendas. ROYA: I witnessed, as so many other Iranian Jews witness, that the story of how we came, why we came, who we had been, was being narrated by those who had a certain partisan perspective about what the history of what Jewish people should be, or how this history needs to be cast, for whatever purposes they had. And I would see that our own recollections of what had happened were being shaded by, or filtered through views other than our own, or facts other than our own. MANYA: As we wrap up this sixth and final episode of the first season of The Forgotten Exodus, it is clear that the same can be said about the stories of the Jewish people. No two tales are the same. Jews have lived everywhere, and there are reasons why they don't anymore. Some fled as refugees. Some embarked as dreamers. Some forged ahead without looking back. Others counted the days until they could return home. What ties them together is their courage, perseverance, and resilience–whether they hailed from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, or parts beyond. These six episodes offer only a handful of those stories–shaped by memories and experiences. ROYA: That became sort of an additional incentive, if not burden for me to, to be a witness for several communities, to tell the story of what happened in Iran for American audiences, to Jews, to non-Iranian Jews who didn't realize that there were Jews in Iran, but also to record the history, according to how I had witnessed it, for ourselves, to make sure that it goes down, as I knew it. MANYA: Iranian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left their homes in the Middle East to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Many thanks to Roya for sharing her family's story and for helping us wrap up this season of The Forgotten Exodus. If you're listening for the first time, check out our previous episodes on Jews from Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Go to ajc.org/theforgottenexodus where you'll also find transcripts, show notes, and family photos. There are still so many stories to tell. Stay tuned in coming months. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories. Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891.1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus. Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC. You can reach us at email@example.com. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.
Welcome to The Times of Israel's Daily Briefing, your 15-minute audio update on what's happening in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, from Sunday through Thursday. Military correspondent Emanuel Fabian and news editor Amy Spiro join host Amanda Borschel-Dan on today's episode. Yesterday, Orthodox synagogues around the world read the Torah portion Chayei Sara and some 30,000 Israeli Jews made a pilgrimage to Hebron where violence was sparked by parading Jews against Palestinian residents and Israeli soldiers. Fabian gives background. On Thursday, Israeli authorities announced they would reinvestigate materials related to a deadly explosion at Israel's military headquarters in Tyre during the First Lebanon War in 1982. The explosion was widely believed to have been a suicide bombing but was officially attributed to a gas leak. What's changed now? Spiro delves into her long examination of the legacy of Mizrahi singer Zohar Argov 35 years after his death. Can one separate out the art from the artist and should streets be named after a convicted rapist? To end on a lighter note, we hear about the first Jewish star from "Love is Blind," a wildly popular Netflix reality TV show. Discussed articles include: ‘Shameful': Israelis assault troops, initiate clashes with Palestinians in Hebron Israel reopens probe into deadly 1982 blast at army headquarters during Lebanon war Unfit to be ‘the king': How singer Zohar Argov's legacy continues to be whitewashed First Jewish star of ‘Love is Blind' says antisemitic threats only make her stronger Subscribe to The Times of Israel Daily Briefing on iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. IMAGE: Israeli security forces guard during clashes between Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron, November 19, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In this episode, we speak with Yoni Battat about music, identity, and creativity. Yoni discusses what it means to explore the fragments of memory and identity through art. We discuss his experiences with klezmer music as well as the ways Mizrahi and Iraqi-specific influences inform his work as an artist. Learn more about Yoni Battat's music at www.yonibattat.comLearn more about Joy and Conversation at www.joyandconversationpodcast.comDonate and support Project Mosaics, the 501(c)(3) education nonprofit that produces Joy and Conversation at www.projectmosaics.orgFollow Joy and Conversation on social media:Twitter- @JandCPodcastFacebook- @JoyandConversationPodcastYouTube- Joy and ConversationEpisode Credits:Joy and Conversation is hosted by Dan OsbornMusic supervision, editing mixing, and mastering by Nico Rivers (www.auraformaudio.com)Graphics and Klezmer theme song by Alec Hutson (www.alechutson.com & www.warbirdcreative.com)Website design by Jakob Lazzaro (www.jakoblazzaro.com)This episode featured music from Yoni Battat's album Fragments.Episode photo by Dan Osborn
El chef Aarón Mizrahi es el anfitrión del evento Brasas México que se llevará a cabo los próximos 15 y 16 de octubre. En entrevista nos da los detalles de este encuentro de parrilleros que tendrá lugar en Infield del Hipódromo de Las Américas.Además nos da consejos útiles qué nos ayudarán a preparar el mejor asado, incluyendo la técnica de usar los Doritos para encender de forma rápida el fuego del asador.Consulta este y otros deliciosos temas en Aderezo. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
This week I'm talking with Claudia Roden… Claudia is one of the world's most unique cookbook writers and cultural anthropologists. She grew up in Cairo as an Egyptian Jew, studied in Paris and London, and every step of her career so far has been beyond fascinating! Over the years she has published multiple bestsellers, including the international award-winning The Book of Jewish Food, which has just been re-released as a special 25th anniversary edition, available anywhere you get your books! As a result of 16 years of research and world travel, The Book of Jewish Food was originally released in 1997 when Jewish food was overlooked by the food industry, instead only being enjoyed behind closed doors. In this book Claudia shone a light on the diverse flavours and cultural origins of those dishes, revealing the beauty and simplicity of traditional Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrahi food on the page for the first time. In doing so she put Jewish food on the map, and changed the modern culinary landscape for good. This new 25th anniversary edition includes new content and recipes, and it'd make the perfect gift for any home cook! The Book of Jewish Food, 25th Anniversary Edition, published by Penguin Other books by Claudia Roden: Med, A Cookbook A New Book of Middle Eastern Food The Food of Italy Photo credit ⓒ Stuart Simpson -- All episodes are now being released as video, exclusively on the SodsPod YouTube channel - subscribe here - youtube.com/c/TheSodsLawPodcast See podcast.co/privacy for privacy information.
Yael R Rosenstock Gonzalez (she/her) is a sex educator, sex coach, researcher, author, speaker, curriculum developer, and workshop facilitator. As a queer, polyamorous, white-presenting Nuyorican Jew, Yael has always been interested in understanding the multi-level experiences of individuals. This led her to found Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC, a company dedicated to supporting and creating spaces for individuals to explore and find community in their identities. Through her company, she facilitates workshops, develops curriculum, offers Identity Exploration Coaching, and publishes narratives often left out of mainstream publishing.This episode we explore:Honoring boundaries in community spaces and navigating POC spaces as a white presenting personFinding belonging and claiming identity as a multi-ethnic personDiversity in the Jewish diaspora Promoting inclusive representations of human experience in publishing Episode ResourcesDecolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body LiberationBali Retreat March 19-25 2023https://kvibrations.com/https://www.sexpositiveyou.com/https://www.instagram.com/yaelthesexgeek/https://www.tiktok.com/@yaelthesexgeekHello and welcome to another episode of Body Liberation for All. I'm your host, Dalia Kinsey, holistic registered dietitian, and the author of Decolonizing Wellness.My work is centered on amplifying the health and happiness of LGBTQI+ and BIPOC people. And that is also what we do here at Body Liberation for All. I wanna remind you, I am hosting the Decolonizing Wellness Eco-Luxury QTBIPOC retreat in Bali in March. So if you are a person who loves the plan way in advance, like I do. This is when you want to book. This is a great time to give yourself plenty of room to break the trip into payments and to get all of your ducks in a row. If you aren't going to be able to join us, but you know someone who this retreat could be life changing for, please make sure you share it. Substack makes sharing so easy on their platform. So if you visit daliakinsey.substack.com to listen to this episode you'll see it's just a click of a button. Today's guest, the Yael Rosenstock has so much knowledge in different areas that we cover a lot of territory in this conversation. There was still so much more that we could have dug into that hopefully at a later date we'll get to revisit. Today we explore a little bit of the lived experience of being a white presenting person who lives shoulder to shoulder with POC within the family, but out in the world is not having the same experience as the family members that have a darker complexion. Since we already know race is not actually real from a scientific perspective, it's totally a social construct, your skin color itself will to a large extent determine how much lived experience you have as a person of color or as a white person, regardless of what the socialization inside of your house is like because so much of the POC experience, if you're living in a colonized country, if you're living in a country that has its roots in white supremacy, so much of the experience is informed by the anti-Blackness or the anti-POCness that you're going to encounter out in the world.That does not in any way invalidate the cultural uniqueness of people who are in these very blended families and happen to have pale skin or white skin. So it's interesting to me to hear directly from somebody having this experience. It's an interesting concept to look at on an individual level. What does the fact that race is fictional and totally social have? How does that all play out - when you know you are culturally different from the white folks who do not have POC blood relatives that they live with and are close with but at the same time you know that you're not experiencing the same level of marginalization. What is that like? I rarely bother to claim my Latinx heritage. Because the anti-blackness that I have encountered in a lot of Spanish-speaking circles here in the US is so intense it doesn't make any logical sense for me to keep trying to be somewhere that I don't feel welcome.Some of these themes that Yael shares, the feeling of not enoughness when you are more than one thing or when you've only been presented with a narrow definition of what it means to hold a particular identity, is so relatable. I know not just to us, it's so relatable to so many people, because the ways that we define certain identities are so narrow it naturally leaves out a large number of people. The work that Yael is doing to promote the authentic representation of a wide variety of human experience at her publishing company feels like such a natural extension of this lived experience that she has of knowing how difficult it can be to really claim and embody our identities when we haven't seen anything similar reflected back to us. I love this. Entire conversation. I know you will too. Let's jump right into it. Body Liberation for All ThemeYeah. They might try to put you in a box, tell them that you don't accept when the world is tripping out tell them that you love yourself. Hey, Hey, smile on them live your life just like you like it is.It's your party negativity is not invited. For my queer folks, for my trans, people of color, let your voice be heard. Look in the mirror and say that it's time to put me first. You born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So, I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.Dalia: I definitely wanted to cover the concept of white passing fragility. But then I want to definitely talk about your other projects and just what you're doing with intersectionality.Yael: Okay. I do want to warn that there's a very good chance that that will not. Some people will really like that idea of the white passing fragility, but others won't because right. The author of that book has become super famous and super rich off of a book around racism as a white woman. And just giving you a fair warning that this may or may not be taken so well.Dalia: And then that's so interesting too, because it seems like people should be compensated for good work or things that they do with good intentions.Dalia: But so often people who are in social justice are on the struggle bus financially, but, and that almost seems to be the expectation. Like you have to be a martyr to break down systems of oppression. But then I also am conflicted because it seems like all the time, white people continue to profit off of pain from people of color and especially Black people in this country. Even when you look at who makes money off of depictions of just Black suffering in general, whether it's another movie about slavery, even if it's a "fun" spin on it, like the Django or something, which I refuse to watch, I just don't understand how we're not seeing how problematic that is, but at least hers originally started out with intentions that seemed more educational.Dalia: Like I think it's a little more sketch to create a film or a piece of entertainment that centered on Black pain. And then all the money goes to somebody who's not Black. I mean, not at all, but the majority, most of it, right. It seems less sketchy, but it is sketchy nonetheless.Dalia: And I've been having a lot of feelings around these white savior complexes that are popping out these days. And people not understanding that, hey, maybe people want to be the hero of their own damn story and guess what, maybe they are ready are.Yael: But you're in the wayDalia: I know. Right? Or like you just exhausting people showing up to the March and explaining to everybody how, you know, you're being white the right way. I don't know if you've seen that play out in real life where people try constantly schooling other white people on how to be more. Down, I guess is the expression, but it doesn't really translate, but it's so rare that people confront people like that because their competition or the people that you have to compare them to you sometimes are so problematic that by comparison, they seem amazing.Yael: Yeah, I like this better.Dalia: So it's like, should I even say anything?Dalia: So I don't know.Yael: Considering that most of my spaces are POC and or Latin. I don't have that many white saviors.Dalia: Smart. Okay. Is that by design or is that coincidental?Yael: Well, I think at first it's coincidental, right? Just like growing up in a mixed neighborhood with a mixed family.Yael: It just is what happened. I was in a school with folks of different groups. And so that just continued. And then when I did reach middle school and there were white people who were just white, not Latin, like, I mean, there were a couple in elementary, but not many. And. I just felt really uncomfortable in the space.Yael: And that was like my assigned group. Cause I wasn't dark enough to be in the Latin group, I think. And also like the Latin group was like ghetto fab. Like I also wore my hair back slicked back. I also had the lip liner, and I had the big hoop earrings as well,Dalia: But like it wasn't enough.Yael: It was a, it was a browner Latin group. And so I felt like I shouldn't be part of it. Like I was friends with them, but I shouldn't be part of it because I didn't look the same. And so I just like ended up, even though I was friends with all the other groups, I ended up in the white girl group and I was just like, this is uncomfortable. Like, I don't agree with the things they say.Yael: I like rebelled a bit and basically got kicked out. And so I think after that, I was just like, I'm going to try and choose. So I don't think I've ever been like, I'm unwilling to be friends with white people because that doesn't seem nice either. But the same reason that folks have affinity groups, right?Yael: The same reason we hang out with queer people as queer people, the same reason you hang out with Latin people if you're Latin or Black and Black is because you don't want to have to explain certain things. And I'm tired. And so I don't go into all white spaces cause I get nervous about why are they all white?Yael: Like what's the intention behind this group. Is there an ulterior motive and I, yeah, I just like, I don't want to have to explain things that I end up becoming that white person, the white savior being like, that's not how. I joined a book club once. And they were talking about how, like, it didn't make sense that this person was referencing their dreams.Yael: Like it's not like a real thing. And I was like, this person is Mexican. And I don't know that much about Mexicans, but in like Caribbean culture dreams can be really important.Dalia: Oh wait. They were saying like a literal dream, not goals that they were struggling with finding meaning in their dream and they thought that was weird?Yael: Yeah. He was writing a memoir and he was referencing how he thought his dream was related to the, like what was happening in his life and that he had seen a Wolf or something. Right. He has indigenous culture roots, right as a Mexican-American. But they were just like, no, that's like, he's just making that up from the memoir.Dalia: But no, because that's extremely common.Yael: Yeah. Like they couldn't fathom it.Dalia: That is fascinating. So this is so interesting, can you share your marginalized identities? Because I think the experience of being white presenting is interesting in that you may be exposed to things that I might never hear, because I didn't even know that, I didn't even notice that white people weren't doing that all the time too.Dalia: Because at work at the moment I'm working in a majority Black office. And people are constantly talking about, you know, oh, I saw this, I wonder if it's a sign and we all have different religious backgrounds too. Somebody even started wearing a hair net because they're afraid somebody might get some of their hair that was shedding and put roots on them. None of us thought that was weird. We were all like, oh, if you feel it's necessary, you do that. You make sure you're not,Yael: You save yourself. It may or may not be real. It may or may not be. I'm always like, I rather be careful then sorry.Dalia: Exactly. Absolutely. Nobody said anything when I came into the room to sage it because I thought that we had some bad mojo in there.Dalia: People said, make sure you get my desk.. Someone came in with holy water. Like we had a very problematic coworker , and we were like, get all the stuff we're clapping in the corners.Yael: I was friends with one of the custodians where I used to work and she's an older woman. She was like the age of maybe like between mother and grandmother.Yael: And she brought me a bracelet because she was. You're very joyful and you're pretty. And I just think that someone's going to send you a curse. made me a bracelet to protect me from maldiciones. She just didn't want me to get hurt.Dalia: And you immediately put it on. You're like, okay, thanks.Yael: I mean, first off, like I appreciate that you're caring about me and no, I don't think it's weird.Yael: I've worn, evil eyes before, you know, like, to me, I think that the bigger thing for us is like whether or not we participate or whether or not we're like, yes, this is real when I talk about ghost stories, I share all the ghost stories. I know. Was I there? No. Was it real? I don't know. Cause I wasn't there, but it could be .Dalia: It's so dismissive to be like, oh, that's so dumb. What? Who says that -only people who are very sheltered and are under the impression that their way is the only way.Yael: This was a group about social justice. The people are lovely and the ones who hosted, I actually adore. They are fantastic.Yael: And they weren't the ones who were having this question, but I remember one person in particular, she was just totally dismissive. And I was just like, I don't understand. And I didn't show up for a couple of years, but then I came back and I was like, okay, my role is going to be giving the perspective of not these people in the case that this comes up again, because they keep reading books by people of color. And like, I don't have the same perspective. Like I said, I'm not Mexican. I don't know what they do. But I have a feeling that this is like something that's shared, like it's a native American thing.Yael: It's a Latin thing. It's a Black thing. Like I just feel, you know, Asian cultures, everyone, actually.Dalia: I know this is whats so bizarre.Yael: There are definitely white people who also have that as a practice and Jews, a lot of us who do pass it are white or pass as white, like that's also part of our culture.Dalia: And that's another thing. So this is one of my big questions. So, you identify as Latin X?Yael: Yes, I'm LatinaDalia: You're Latina and you're Jewish. And so does that mean your mother is your Jewish parent.Yael: That is actually, so...Dalia: does that matter or is that like out of date or…Yael: No, that is an excellent question. My parents tried to enroll me in what's called Yeshiva because they didn't like the local public school.Yael: And so they wanted to put me in a Jewish school and I got rejected because my mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish. And as you like are insinuating, like the religion follows the mother. Now that school accepts muts like me of my form. They no longer discriminate against us, but because my parents couldn't put me in the Jewish school.Yael: I went to an Episcopalian school.Dalia: Oh, wow, you were all over the place.Yael: Yeah. So I got a good Christian education .Dalia: Oh, and how did your dad manage,, was he a little heartbroken? Like, Ooh, not what I had in mind.Yael: Well, it was a small school. There wasn't a religion class, but like every morning we started with prayers and every Wednesday we had mass and I just, I didn't know they wanted me to be Jewish. I thought they were saying, here are our religions. You go to Sunday Jewish school. You go to day school with Christians. Figure out your path. And so I very confidently figured out my path. I was like, I am Jewish. And like, I am now very knowledgeable about Christian stuff. But actually they did want me to be Jewish and they had warned the school that that was what they wanted.Dalia: I was under the impression, and this may not be accurate. Is that like a modern Jewish person may be a little more secular and maybe they know some of the traditions and then maybe they go to synagogue for special events or, but still feel that strong cultural identity.Dalia: And then don't really feel, I feel like they should be dropped into that white American bucket with everybody else because they're separate as an ethnic group. Whereas other white ethnic groups (in America) gave up their separateness for the most part.Yael: Interesting. So I haven't done much study into the question, but I have a friend who sent me, who sends me lots of articles, Catherine.Yael: And she sent me an article about whether or not Jews are white and my coworker, Asia Gray, who does our anti-racism curriculum and what have you. One of the books was, how antisemitism was the original racism. And so that's part of the way that she talks about oppression and like structural oppressions and what have you.Yael: And she starts that story there and it's like Jews became white if you are white, but there are Black Jews. There are like plenty of Middle Eastern Jews that have more color there are Russian Jews, the Sephardic Jews, the Mizrahi in general. So there are plenty of Jews of color and then they're like me Ashkenazi, which are of German roots, right. German and certain parts of Russia, roots and Poland and all that kind of stuff. And so, yeah. Yes, it is a different, I agree. It's different ethnic group. Like you can trace us back when I did that blood test, I literally come out 49% Ashkenazi. I'm from Germany, even though I can, I can trace my roots on a family tree that's physical to the 15 hundreds. It says I'm Ashkenazi. Wasn't mentioned Germany because the Jewish blood is what it picks up. And so, yes, I agree. Like there's like this ethnic thing there and that's why you can be a secular person of a religion.Yael: I mean, there are plenty of secular Christians, right. That celebrate Christmas and what have you. But there's like this certain level of like the foods that you eat and the mannerisms that you have and like certain cultural values. I don't identify it as a secular Jew I identify as reform, which is like a less observant Jew.Dalia: Now, how did you feel your queer identity meshes with Judaism? It's rumored to be an easier mesh. Is that true? Are Christians just being jealous?Yael: I think it is an easier, easier. I mean, I know plenty of Christians that are queer, but my synagogue, I don't remember how old I was, but she bat mitzvah'd me so young enough for that had a lesbian rabbai.Yael: And she got married at our synagogue and we were just a regular reform synagogue. Right. We weren't like, ah, where the most social justice progressive synogauge, we were just a reform synagogue. And we did lose some of the older parishioners and I imagine some other age ones, when she joined as the rabbi, but for the most part, everyone was like, love who you love.Yael: Right? Like that's not an issue. And she was a woman rabbi and my next rabbi was also a woman, right? So like that's super common. It's even starting very slowly in the Orthodox community, which is one of the more observant sects of Judaism to have women rabbis. And so overall I think that shift is, is more common in our space .Dalia: The idea of there being Jewish people of color is interesting to me, because it seems like in the states, people are under the impression that that's not a thing. Can you tell us about the work that you're doing for representation, and as far as intersectionality goes as a very fair skin person of color.Yael: Sure so I think the most thing that the thing that directly relates is that I'm part of the diverse bodies project. The idea is a nude photo interview series, intended to increase representation of who gets seen and photograph naked and how you want to be represented.Yael: So it's not that you had to do a sexy shot or you had to do a serious shot that people get to bring their personalities in through the photographs and show who they are. And that was really important to us and something that we did because it's been taken us forever. But the mini books that we've already released is the Jews flying the rainbow flag mini books.Yael: And so it's got five different Jews and we had plenty of Jews participate but featured five different Jews ranging from like early twenties to, I think, sixties and out of the five of them. Two of them are Black. One of the Black Jews is also Latin, so she's Afro Dominican. And the point of that was to be like folks exist, you know, and it's so common for you to be like, this is what a Jew looks like when.Yael: Yeah, sure a lot of us do look like me. There are Black Jews. There are Latin Jews, there are Asian Jews, there are all the types. And so that was really important to us that we highlight that these are two queer Black Jewish women and they get as much space in this little book as anyone else.Yael: I will say part of my work and that's what we got into the white white passing fragility talk is that I don't identify as a person of color. And who knows, maybe I'll change that at some point. I choose not to identify that way. Cause it feels appropriative. And to be like, just because I have another language or just because my family may have a bunch of people of color and it doesn't mean that I'm existing as a person of color.Yael: And so when I walked through the street, people see me as white and that's just true. But I do enter, and I was asked this question recently, so why do I enter people of color spaces? And it's cause I'm, I'm feel safer there. I feel more connected there. I don't feel blegh there. And so if people are willing to have me, which they generally are, most people of color spaces are open to white presenting Latin folk. Then I just asked permission and I join.Dalia: That's interesting and I knew that, and I forgot that when I said that, because I know I'm very used to- anybody who says they're a person of color. I was just like, okay, like, it's the response? Because especially, you know, Black American, no, actually.Dalia: Latin people even more than Black Americans come in all kinds of shades and colors, and you can't look at somebody and have any clue what even their parents look like. And that a lot of times really informs their experience as far as how they were treated growing up, because it is funny to me how depending on who you're sitting beside, people may perceive your color differently, which just goes to show how arbitrary our understanding of race is..Dalia: Like number one, we know it's not a real biological thing, but like you said, it's the experience that creates the cultural differences. It's the lived experience that matters. So if, when you are out in the world, people treat you as though you are white well then you are having the white experience.Dalia: And that is really the key difference. But I have biracial friends who, if they were with their brown parent, they get treated differently and are even perceived differently versus with the other parent, which I just think is fascinating.Yael: Well, my parents are both white. My dad is white Ashkenazi and my mother is a white presenting Latina.Yael: My uncle, my abuela they would have been identified as POC, but not my mother. And so when I'm with my mother, it was the same thing. People don't realize she speaks Spanish. She's been spoken about by people who were like checking her out.Dalia: Well, it's just interesting to me. And I don't know if this happens everywhere or if it's some of our American brainwashing, but like all the time people act as though Spanish is. Secret language. And I'm like, what is wrong with you? It is so, so common. And the people who speak it look so many different ways and you don't have to only speak English, your heart language, or your first language.Dalia: Like, that's another thing I'm like, you do realize that maybe she can speak Spanish as a second language or not all latin people look the same. I really don't understand the disconnect with that because I've been spoken about in Spanish to my frigging face so many times, and I do speak Spanish. And usually, I mean, unless they're saying something really rude, usually people are trying to guess whether or not the person I'm with is my husband or my what's the male form of mistress.Dalia: I bet there isn't one, right? Oh,Yael: LoverDalia: Yeah, it just goes to show like, if there isn't a word that connotes, not a legitimate partner, because you're not married to them that's some more sexist shenanigans, but yeah, it's just interesting to me that people make that assumption so often. So what has your experience been like trying to stay connected to your Latin roots when so often people are very narrow about what they consider to be Latin?Yael: So it's funny because all of our countries have folks, all the Latin countries have folks that look like me. And like most of the countries have folks that look like you, right? It's not, we're not anomalies in these spaces.Yael: And so I actually, I was convinced I needed to prove myself. Like my mother, I felt counted as real Latina because she was raised in Puerto Rico. Her first language is Spanish. Like that seems to me like check that counts. But me I'm half Ashkenazi. I look, the way that I do my Spanish for awhile was pretty crappy.Yael: And so I, I felt the need to prove myself. All my friends were Latina and I was like, I must be more Latina. I must speak this fluently. And I must eat the food. And I am an incredible salsa dancer at this point. So, but that was all me. Right. And perhaps white people and perhaps Black people who weren't Latin.Yael: Right. And that, if I said I was. The response was always like, oh really? Unless I turned around and then they're like, I see it in your butt now I know that you're Latin because of your butt, like, literally the number of times people have been like, I believe you because of your shape. Otherwise I wouldn't have counted you.Yael: Whereas on the flip side with Latin folks, there's really not much surprise. They don't assume I'm Latina. But if I start speaking Spanish or they see me dancing or whatever, like they ask me, where are you from? They don't ask me, are you at the end of the ask me? Oh, okay. Yeah. Right. Assume that I am. And they're right, because for them, it's not so surprising to see someone who looks like me, but I think, and it's when you think of immigration, you're going to assume that more white Latins are going to migrate because of mean.Yael: Whereas you have browner and Blacker people migrating because of need. And so if you're hanging out with folks from your same social class, which will end up being also your same racial categorization, because those are very linked to whether or not we all want to admit it in the Americas as well.Yael: And all the Americas. So like, I think that that's part of it, right? You're used to hanging out with other brown people. And so even though your country has plenty people who look like me, you never associated with associated with them. Either. They were from a different region or they were from a different social class.Yael: And so they went to different schools and they had different access. And so I think that's more it, but like Latin people never not include me.Dalia: Oh, that's interesting. So it was really more just internal.Yael: Yeah. I was like in TV, none of the Latinas looked like me. All of my friends were darker than me.Yael: And so I was like, I need to be darker. And my abuela ? When I went to go visit her, she was like, no sunscreen. We need to get you more dark.Dalia: That is so interesting to me because that I've seen more often the opposite experience. So first I think when I turn on Univision, everybody's white and the housekeeper looks like she has some indigenous ancestry.Dalia: She doesn't get to say anything, except like, let me get that for you.Yael: They're white almost. They're like what I call exotic white. Like they have, what's considered what I consider the stereotypical, Latin of means look, which is like, they have very heavily European race roots, but they were at some point mixed with other races.Yael: And so they have like olive tone skin, dark hair, like certain whatever. And I don't have. It's like, I'm actually just white passing.Dalia: Yeah. Oh yeah. That makes sense. That distinction. Yeah. I can see that for sure. Like a Sophia Vergara type of, yeah.Dalia: But at the same time I'm sure when she is home, she would be called white, but it's just, when you weave and you come here, then you you've turned into some exotic white.Yael: Yes. And that like that to me is like an interesting thing too. Like if in your own country you are white and then you come here and you're like, I'm a person of color.Yael: What changed? And it's true. Our racial dynamics are very different in each country, but it's interesting to me that, like, I mean, you don't necessarily, people don't identify necessarily as white or Black or what have you. That's not part of, most of the country's ways of self. They just don't do that. And then some countries that like became illegal like you don't put that stuff on the birth certificates, like you just don't name race. But in my head, I'm like you can recognize hopefully that people look different in your country and that you're having different experiences based on that. So when you come to this country, why do you claim this identity?Yael: Or if your family came to this country, why do you claim this identity when you were still white passing?Dalia: Well, yeah, that is really interesting. And what is funny to me, especially for Dominicans, just because I hear this from them more than anybody else, that your race, it feels like it did change during the flight because your treatment was completely different.Dalia: And maybe back home, you were part of the dominant group culturally and power structure wise. And this is the first time people are treating you as though you're an other. And so maybe your identity will shift them because race really is a social construct. So you can make a flight and your race changes.Yael: Yes, totally agree. But also those are Afro Dominican, right? Then being put into a category that is on the lower end of, or possibly the lowest end of our racial categories in the U S. And so they're going from being the norm to going to being the most marginalized population in the country. Whereas if you are a light skinned or white passing Latina you were going from being the highest, probably social class in your country to be not too far down. You might feel like you're all of a sudden, like super oppressed, because you're not used to any form of oppressio nDalia: that see, that really says a lot. And it is the author, speaking of white passing fragility, the writer of white fragility says, you know, like 97% feels like a horrible loss or injustice when you're used to a hundred percent.Yael: Oh, wow. Nice quote.Dalia: And I say that, and I'm like, she probably said some other numbers, but don't look it up. Trust me. I love the idea of that perspective of asking for permission to go into these other spaces because you feel comfortable, but then also not internalizing the rejection. If somebody says, I really, I don't think it's a fit.Dalia: How did you get to that point? And how do you suggest other people who are white presenting, but feel more comfortable in browner spaces? How should they reconcile that?Yael: So I think there's like tying back with like that white savior thing that like, I need to be here.Yael: Don't get me wrong, communities are important. And again, like a lot of my community is POC and that is important to me. And also I recognize that not every space is for me. If you were going to have a men's group, I don't belong in it. When I was helping facilitate a peer sex education group, I was like, we need a leader for the abstinence and virginity group, because I am neither abstinent nor identify as a virgin, but I am a super sexual human being.Yael: And so I don't belong in this space. It does not make the space safe. This is a group led by and for folks with a certain experience. And so when you recognize that that's the point, right? Like women's groups, you don't want men. And normally we don't question that we're not like, oh, how exclusionary what's exclusionary is if you don't allow all women.Yael: All women belong in women's groups, whether they're CIS or trans. But you don't allow men because it's a woman's space. And the point is to create a space that feels safe for that population. So they can be heard, feel seen and not have to explain things that they would have to explain to someone who doesn't understand.Yael: And so to me, that is what often POC spaces are. And there's so much I can understand because I'm surrounded by POC and because my family has POC and there's so much I can't understand because I will never live it.Yael: And so if the space would be safer without my presence, then why would I want to put myself in a spot that will cause others harm when then the intension is for them to have a good space.Yael: Not every space is like that, right? Like if you go to school, if you go somewhere most spaces, unless you're like at historically Black university, right? Like you're going to be surrounded by white folks and like, no, one's questioning that. And so why shouldn't you get to be surrounded by the people you want to be surrounded with for this time period that is yours. It's your time, it's your space. And so I think for me, it's just like thinking about what is your intentions about entering it? Are you trying to contribute in a way that is helpful and wholesome and caring and supportive. Great. Is it wanted? Yes. Enter. Is it not. Go somewhere else. You can still hang out with those same people just not in that particular space that was designated at this time for this purpose.Dalia: And when you say it that way, not at this time and not this space, because I feel like a lot of people who seek out those spaces, that isn't how most of their day is, you know, it's just a little refuge and it certainly isn't that they don't want to have a fully integrated intersectional life.Dalia: Like you said, it's a break from having to explain certain things. And what's interesting is when sometimes you try and make things more and more broad. There's just more potential for issues because I have seen more on reality TV than in real life. Yes. White presenting, Latin people using certain racial slurs saying it's okay for them because they're down or whatever. And I'm like, yeah, but you're not of the group that gets to use that word and they just kept on defending it. I'm just like, okay, we're just, you're canceled. We're moving on. So there are, there can be issues where people who you would expect to not be problematic come in and are.Dalia: And so maybe some people have been burned. A few times, and now they're just, they're exhausted and they don't want to put the energy into fielding out who is safe and who is not safe.Yael: And there's nothing wrong with that. Like it's not necessarily personal, it could be personal if you're one of those people, but even the question, right?Yael: Like I wanted to advertise a job position and so I seek to advertise them first in places of color and queer spaces. And so I contacted several different groups. Oh. And then, sorry, I remember there was a posting for a DEI position at a Jewish organization. And so I started to contact the admin of different POC, Jewish groups, like a Black Jewish group, or what have you.Yael: And I said, listen, I filled out their form to enter, but I was like, I don't actually want to enter. I'm wondering if you can share this link. So folks can see the job. I am a white presenting, a Latino Jew. I ended up getting messaged even by the Black group. And they're like, oh, you can join. I was like, Black is not part of my identity.Yael: Like we, because of the Caribbean, we have those roots as well. But like I don't claim that.Dalia: It's funny. I do feel like Black people in my experience. That's why I was so I've been surprised when people have told me, they were bullied. Black kids in school who are other POC is it's always surprising to me because the town that I was raised in and the part of the south that I'm from, people still were in that space of, if you we're different enough to maybe not be able to get into a whites only area, or if the clain would have targeted you too, cause clan is not down. They're very antisemitic, they're anti everything. But then you were welcome. Like if you wanted to sit at that table, you were always welcome. Just anybody who is being othered the policy was come on in. If you have nowhere else to go, we'll take you.Yael: That's lovely. I definitely know that that's not always true. And again, it's okay. I mean, the bullying is not okay. Deciding who's in your space is, but yeah, exactly. So like I was welcomed and obviously everyone's Jewish because it's a Jewish group.Yael: And so it's, it was specifically a space built for Jews, Black Jews and some Jews of color to have a reprieve from the white Jews. White Jews often mean, well, right? Like we fill up social justice spaces, like hardcores. I've spoken to people about this, that like insofar as percentage of folks who are involved in social justice by group, I imagine that our group is one of the most heavily social justice oriented.Yael: Cause we're so small and people are like you're everywhere, but it doesn't mean that we're doing it well or that we're doing it right. And so it can be exhausting to have white Jews around because we are those white saviory types.Yael: And yeah. So I was, I was surprised and I was like, well, okay. Like I will post it myself then afterwards. And she had, she had posted already and she had written my name and giving me credit. And like I said, this person wanted to let us all know about this job.Dalia: That's very cool. It's nice to find community, but it's also very nice to know that when you're trying to create a safe space around certain parts of our identity, that there are people who understand and support, because I'm sure it's hard for some people to hold that space.Dalia: And to not feel guilty about saying no sometimes. So it's nice to know that even if not everybody understands, some people totally understand and they're not gonna lose any sleep over it. They're just going to move on to the next Facebook group and they'll be fine. And maybe you'll run into each other in another space.Dalia: That's centered around an identity that you have in common.Yael: Yeah. Exactly. And so I think that's just like, it's kinda like building resilience and you might actually be in another POC group together, but not necessarily that one.Yael: And make everybody safe because I would hate to go into a space where I was told, Hey, women are welcome. Like this happens a lot. Well, not now that everybody's at home groups are really growing and there's like a group for everything. But previously it just felt like, like in the nineties, everything that was gay or LGBTQ was CIS male dominated.Dalia: Tell us about your company and what made you want to form a publishing company and what your vision is for that company?Yael: Sure. So my company's name is Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC . And for anyone who's an owner, kaleidoscope is it's like this toy that had all these like gems on the bottom and you'd move your hands in opposite directions around this tuby thing. And you'd look inside and it would be create new, pretty color combinations.Yael: And so the idea is that every vibration or event in your life creates a new beautiful you, and that our identities are always forming and they're always developing. And the reason I created this company was because I was this like Jew that wasn't Jewish enough. I was this Latina that I didn't think that I looked enough or counted enough.Yael: I was queer, but not queer enough. You know, like there are all these ways and this, I, I didn't feel like I should count. And that's, that's different, right? Like that's different than choosing whether or not you belong in a space as to whether or not you feel like you matter enough to be in a space or if you, you belong.Yael: And so I created this company to help people find confidence in their identities and find their communities. So maybe. You don't belong to blank community, but you do belong to another one and then you can find the people that you need so you have a supportive, loving environment that understands you.Yael: And so I do workshops, I do identity coaching, curriculum development like inclusivity in the workspace across different identities and what have you. But we also have a publishing sect, and that's the purpose is to uplift different narratives that aren't necessarily heard. And so the first book was mine, which is An Intro Guide to a Sex Positive You.Yael: Sex is not necessarily something you think of and you're like, oh, this is not inclusive, but it really is. And so my book, I know I had someone read it, who was like, I've been looking for a book that validated my experiences as a queer person while reading it that wasn't heteronormative, right. That wasn't geared towards straight people.Yael: And it's not that my book has hetero exclusive. You can be whatever matched you with. I just don't assume what you're going to match. And so I don't add genders into my conversations in the book and that like that in and of itself, apparently at the time was somewhat revolutionary for some folks. And the next book was Luna, Luna Si, Luna.Yael: Yes. Maybe it's that Luna? Yes. Luna Si. And it is a book about two little sisters who are Latino it's in English and in Spanish. And the younger sister has autism. And she is 40% verbal. And so we often see representations of savants, right? So, and they tend to be white males. And so you have these kids who have really incredible abilities to count numbers or to memorize things, or what have you.Yael: And they often do have very good verbal capacities. They have awkward social cues because they have trouble reading it, but that's like the extent to how they represent autism. Whereas in this case, like you see how she, how she is able to communicate the form that her language takes. And you do learn about like the kinds of things that she can do.Yael: You learn about stems. So like ticks that people do to keep themselves calm and well. And that was the intention, right? link that autism comes in all colors, all ethnicities, that there are varying levels of how much people can communicate and what, you know, how much need or help they might require.Yael: And yeah, and it just, that's, it it's a story about sisters and how they love each other and how they communicate and also one of them has autism. And so that intention of bringing those to the surface and yeah, we're working on a bunch of other different possibilities as well. Another one's about anxiety.Yael: So another bilingual book, but a little girl's anxiety and what that's looked like for her.Dalia: That's really helpful. I think that more and more children are experiencing anxiety earlier. So that's definitely needed. And it is interesting how ableism racism, xenophobia, how it all plays together and how you really don't see representation of people living with a diagnosis that aren't white it's. I mean, it's almost always going to be white to the extent that when you meet someone with something as common as down syndrome, who's Asian, you're like, wow. Like, oh, I didn't know. Obviously we can all get whatever we can be born, any kind of way, human diversity, it's just what we choose to feature. That makes it seem like we aren't as diverse as we are.Yael: But then it's also the like racism that exists within the publishing space. And so even when you do have some books that are more representative in that, like the pictures have kids of all different colors, it doesn't necessarily that the author is a person of color.Yael: And so with my company, you have to have either the identities that you are discussing or someone in your like close family, someone in your close life, and you have lived this with them, right. That you are experiencing this with them. So like the author of the book autism, t he person with autism, didn't write this.Yael: She doesn't write. But her sister wrote it. And so she has lived with her sister, her, the younger one's entire life, the one who has autism so entire life. And so that was like the perspective that we were able to take. And so it's very important to me that the people who are writing the stories also have lived experience.Yael: And it's not just about like, oh yeah, we need to mix A and B and with number 3 so that we can count in this diversity world where like, you're supposed to do this. Now it's about like, this is my story, and I want you to hear it.Dalia: And the way that people tell their own story is so different from how it's told by an observer.Dalia: And people can feel that difference. Sometimes it's so subtle, but you definitely, some things just they're very difficult to fake and so right now, a lot of companies. In all sectors, not just publishing people are faking the funk right now, and it's not pretty. So it falls flat. It's all kind of, oh, this just came to me.Dalia: Did you see that woman who has been saying that? She's...Yael: who said that she was Black from the Bronx in the Bronx and is a white Jew from Kansas.Dalia: Yes, she got the hoop earrings, she got the tan and she was like, I'm ready to rock. I do not understand how this has happened more than once in such a widely publicized way in my lifetime.Yael: So I actually, let's, let's break that down a bit. So first off, she's a, she is a white Jew, right? My friend is also a white Jew. Neither of them actually presents white. Like, if you look at them, that's not the identity you're going to give them because they were darker skin tones. Right. And so it's also interesting how whiteness works that like, because they are Jewish, they are given.Yael: Right. It just, that is also so interesting. But I remember someone commented, like how did no one realize like Afro Latinas don't come that light? And I was like, hold up a second way lighter than that woman. Right. There are people who identify as Black. That is their identity. Who are way lighter than this faker.Yael: And so my thing was, you should not fake who you are, but the fact that people believed her makes total sense to me.Dalia: But it seemed like to me, what was the most damning is how. Some of her clothing choices and accessory choices, maybe they speak to her, they were so sterotypical. It just seemed a little performative.Yael: She faked three different identities.Dalia: Oh, I didn't see that part.Yael: Afro Latina was her latest identity. The one before that was Black American, the one before that was north African. Okay. She moved across the globe.Yael: No one tracked this?! Like at one point she was north African and now she's Black and now she's Afro Latina from the Bronx specifically.Dalia: That's interesting too, that extra, that, that was so important for her to feature that what trips me out about it. And I think what really troubles a lot of people about it is to know that.Dalia: Race is not real to the extent that whatever you say could literally change your experience. You just have to keep saying it and buy some hoops and you can be another person. Like, it just, she went overboard with the, just so stereotypical, but you're right. It easily could have been true going off of skin color alone.Dalia: And some people do still dress that way, even though it's not the nineties anymore.Yael: But I love my hoops in the nineties.Dalia: I did too, you know, but they're like more modern with the embellishment. It has that like handcrafted feel. I don't know what happened with the hoops. It went out for me with letting my eyebrows finally try and grow back in, but I did use to be so, so into that. But at one point I also had a Jheri curl.Dalia: So I really shouldn't talk about anybody else's since its style, I've made many mistakes over the years. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective and coming on. Where can people find you? Sure.Yael: So my main thing is that I'm @yaelthesexgeek I'm a sexologist, sex coach, a sex educator.Yael: @yaelthesexgeek on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. My website is sexpositiveyou.com, so pretty easy. And then my company is kvibrations.com. And so you can find most of my things through there.Dalia: Awesome. You are doing so many different things. We didn't even touch on the sex positivity, maybe that's for another day.Dalia: Are you thinking of revisiting that book now that you know, we're kind of all in a different place as a country and as queer people? Or are there things you'd like to add? Are you going to revise that addition or write something new?Yael: Yeah. So the book is only two years old, but things change and shift so much, right? Like now there is so much more language outside of queer spaces around pronouns, but I think even in 2018, like the idea of talking about pronouns outside of queer spaces was still foreign for most, so. Yes, there are definitely, I've looked back and I'm like, oh, overall, I'm like, this is a good book.Yael: Just so you know, like people love my book and I go back, I'm like, oh, this was, this was better than you thought it was. Yes, there are, of course things I want to change, but I I'm looking into doing a teen workbook version of it. Because I wrote it for my 14 year old self, but I don't think parents of 14 year olds would be thrilled to have their kids read this book..Yael: And I think it's more of like a 16 and up kind of book. And I want to be able to reach people when they're younger because sexual trauma and boundary making and self pleasure and all of that is important before you are 18 or 16. And I also started, but I'm not going to have time right now, the nerds guide.Yael: So this is the intro guide and the nerds guide goes into the socio historical and psychological backgrounds. And so when you talk about things, Gender. I want to be able to talk about that are six sexes and genders are present in the Talmud in ancient Jewish text, rich and written 1500 years ago. I want to talk about the hijra in India, and that they have like that as a third gender that's established that how different native American communities have two spirit or don't have two spirit identities.Yael: And like, what does that mean and how do they conceptualize it? And just like, recognizing that there's so much more beyond what we talk about.Dalia: Yeah, that sounds really fascinating.Yael: Yeah. But that's going to take awhile. It's going to take research and I'm doing a PhD right now.Dalia: The list just keeps going.Yael: And that's on the back burner, that's like maybe if someone gives me a book deal, I'll work on that.Dalia: I love it. Oh, excellent. Thank you so much for coming on.Yael: Thank you for having me.Yael: I always, I really enjoy talking with you and Dalia.Dalia: Same here. Same here. You'll have to come back when you finish your nerd book or I'm sure, actually you're doing many things. I'm sure it'll be before then. Sounds good. Get full access to Body Liberation for All at daliakinsey.substack.com/subscribe
For a company to work effectively in an async environment, you need to consider several factors, such as processes, documentation, and communication tools. In this episode, Rachel Sanders, CEO of Rootine, explains why it is important to promote a positive work environment and create boundaries in her conversation with Michael ‘Miz' Mizrahi. Look for multiple new shows per week on A Whole New Level, where we have in-depth conversations about metabolic health and how the Levels startup team builds a wellness movement from the ground up in the health and wellness tech industry.
Pour son deuxième match de Ligue des champions, saison 2022-2023, le Paris SG se rend à Haïfa, en Israël. L'occasion de revivre la confrontation entre le Maccabi Haïfa et le PSG de 1998. Le PSG d'Alain Giresse dispute alors son premier tour en Coupe des Coupes. Après le 1-1 de l'aller au Parc des Princes, les Parisiens sont éliminés, dans le temps additionnel d'une rencontre folle. Pierre Ducrocq y était. Et il se remémore dans le cadre ce podcast After Galaxy ce match qui aura marqué l'existence du club parisien, mais aussi une saison marquée par beaucoup de chamboulements, entre les changements au sein de la direction, les départs de joueurs cadres (Raí, Fournier, Le Guen, Guérin, N'Gotty, Roche…) et l'arrivée de Jay Jay Okocha, recrue la plus chère de l‘histoire du championnat de France. Mais ça, c'était il y a près de 25 ans… Depuis le PSG a beaucoup change et les Verts aussi. A quoi le Paris SG devra s'attendre à Sammy-Ofer ? Quelles sont les points, faiblesses du Maccabi Haïfa ? Réponse, avec Jonathan Nahmany, spécialiste du football israélien.
Financier, philanthropist, and longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation Nessim Gaon was proud of the Sudanese birthright that made him part of a long lineage of Jews from Arab lands. However, with growing antisemitism in Sudan, he also believed Israel offered the only safe haven for Jews around the world and devoted his life to constantly improving the Zionist project. Gaon's oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee, shares the story of her grandfather's flight from Sudan, his quest for equality in Israel, and his pursuit of peace between the Jewish state and Arab nations that led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt. Along with Dr. Herzog, oral historian Daisy Abboudi describes great changes in Sudan that take place during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which saw the country emerge from a period of Islamic extremism to a land of possibilities for Jewish pioneers. However, this brief window of openness closes once again as Gaon's cousins, Diana Krief and Flore Eleini, describe how following Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Sudan once again became a terrifying place to be a Jew. ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Song credits: Saza Niye Glemedin; Penceresi Yola Karsi: all by Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road Pond5: “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Hatikvah (National Anthem Of Israel, Electric Guitar)”; Composer: Composer: Eli Sibony; ID#122561081 “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. “A Middle East Lament”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Alpha (ASCAP); Composer: Dan Cullen (PRS), IPI#551977321 “Mystic Anatolia”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Alpha (ASCAP); Composer: Okan Akdeniz (MSG), IPI#37747892568 “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Fields Of Elysium”; Publisher: Mysterylab Music; Composer: Mott Jordan; ID#79549862 ___ Episode Transcript: ALEXANDRA HERZOG: Oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.' And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image. MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus. Today's episode: Leaving Sudan MANYA: When Diana Krief and her 95-year-old mother Flore Eleini look back on their family's life in Sudan, they conjure dark memories. Flore remembers enjoying afternoon tea outside with her mother-in-law when soldiers armed with bayonets stormed the garden. FLORE ELEINI: Life was normal, life was good. And then, little by little. it deteriorated. We were the very, very last Jews to stay in the Sudan. And then, after the Six Day War, of course, they came, you know, in the street, they were shouting, kill, kill, kill, kill the Jews, kill, kill, kill the Jews. And one day, I thought it was our end. MANYA: Her daughter Diana remembers soldiers raiding their house and posters of decapitated Jews outside their home. DIANA KRIEF: It's actually by others that I came to know that I was Jewish, that I was a Jew, you know, born in a Jewish family. They used to come in front of the house with posters of Jews in the Mediterranean Sea with their heads cut off, and blood everywhere. That's the first time I had actually seen the land of Israel. I didn't know that we had a land before. And it was “itbah” the whole time. And even when we would put the radio on, they would sing“itbah itbah al yahud.” That means “slaughter, slaughter the Jews”. And this always stayed in my memory. MANYA: In 1968, Flore and Diana were among the last Jews to flee Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. They followed a path to Geneva blazed by Flore's cousin, Nessim Gaon, a financier and philanthropist born and raised in Sudan who had moved from Khartoum to Switzerland a decade earlier. Gaon, who died in May 2022 at the age of 100, was a legend in modern Jewish history. As a longtime president of the World Sephardi Federation, he worked to raise the profile of Sephardic Jews around the world and level the playing field for them in Israel – where Arabic speaking Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews were often looked down upon. On the contrary, Gaon believed they offered Israel a gift – a link between the Jewish state and their former homes in the Arab world. Gaon himself offered a shining example. He persuaded his dear friend, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to meet with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, which led to the historic 1979 accord between Israel and Egypt – the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. ALEXANDRA: For him when Israel was built, it really was like a miracle. He really, truly believed in the possibilities that Israel could offer. He also realized that Sephardic Jews could play a role in creating a bridge between Israel and the Arab countries, and that they would be able to help in creating peace or at least creating dialogue between some of those countries. And that's really what he did in his conversations with Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin. MANYA: That's Gaon's oldest grandchild, Dr. Alexandra Herzog, who now serves as the deputy director of Contemporary Jewish Life for American Jewish Committee. As her last name indicates, her mother Marguerite, Gaon's daughter, married into the Herzog dynasty. Alexandra's paternal grandfather was former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, and her uncle Isaac Herzog, is the Israeli president today. But in addition to that proud legacy, Alexandra is especially proud of the impact her maternal grandfather made in helping Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews – a slight majority of Israel's Jewish population, but a significant majority of its Jewish poor – thrive, succeed, and lead in the Jewish state. Gaon was the driving force behind Project Renewal, an initiative launched in the 1970s to rehabilitate some of Israel's most distressed neighborhoods and improve education and social services there. He developed a bar mitzvah program that provided the education, ceremony, and gifts for thousands of underprivileged boys. And tens of thousands of young Sephardi leaders from impoverished neighborhoods received university scholarships. ALEXANDRA: A lot of the people who came out of this program are actually mayors or members of the Knesset – important people in Israel who actually have, as a ripple effect, a strong impact on the lives of other people as well. MANYA: The history of Sudan's once tiny and tight-knit Jewish community is limited to the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a brief window when it was safe to be Jewish in that Northeast African country. But the Sudanese diaspora's connection to that country runs unusually deep. Sudan, Egypt's neighbor to the south, was much more than a waystation during the age of migration. It was a land of possibilities. Even if their forefathers spent centuries elsewhere, their descendants today often identify with the fleeting generations spent in Sudan. DAISY ABBOUDI: If you speak to people who were there, and you say, where are you from, they will say, Sudan, in a very proud, but definitive way. MANYA: That's Daisy Abboudi, a London-based oral historian of Sudanese Jewish history, who began her career by interviewing her own grandparents. DAISY: Sudanese is very much part of their identity and their descendants kind of focus on Sudan. And I know, there's this kind of phenomena from around the Middle East – a kind of nostalgia of looking back. There's kind of an inherited nostalgia that exists as well. But it's particularly strong in Sudan for a country where people didn't have thousands of years of roots. And I'm kind of always wondering, why? Why has it got this pull? MANYA: The reason could be embedded in the history of Sudan and the pioneering spirit of the Jews who landed in this rustic pocket of Northeast Africa, where the Blue and White Nile Rivers converged, the constellations shone brightly in the night sky, and the scent of jasmine and gardenia floated in the air. In the early 19th century, Sudanese and Egyptian residents lived under Ottoman rule. Jews in Egypt – and the few there might have been in Sudan – faced harsh taxes. But that changed toward the end of the 19th century, as the Ottoman Empire fell, and British forces took over Egypt, before moving south. With them came Christian missionaries who intended to “civilize” the tribes there. An opposition and independence movement began to build, led by a self-proclaimed Mahdi, who claimed to be the foretold redeemer of the Islamic nation. The 1966 epic film, Khartoum, depicts the infamous 1884 Siege of Khartoum, in which the Mahdi, portrayed by Hollywood superstar Laurence Olivier, defeated the popular British General Charles Gordon, played by another Hollywood legend of Ten Commandments fame, Charlton Heston. DAISY: When this independence movement starts, it's led by a man who calls himself the Mahdi, which means the kind of chosen one, and he wins, basically. He conquers Sudan quite quickly and then promptly dies of malaria and his successor takes over. But this period of independence, once it was established, is called the Mahdia, after the Mahdi. It was an Islamic state, basically in that it was quite extremist. All the non-Muslim people living in Sudan had to convert to Islam. This was a law that was targeted at the missionaries who were there, but of course these Jews that were living there got caught up in that policy. MANYA: When the British conquered the Mahdi in 1898, that conversion law was revoked, and some converts reverted back to Judaism. The British built a railway line to supply the army and connect Egypt to Khartoum, the capital of the dual British-Egyptian colony. And soon, Sudan became a destination for Jewish families who sought to build economic opportunities from the ground up. DAISY: It was a kind of a mercantile community, a lot of shops, import-exports, cloth, gum Arabic, hibiscus. A couple of families grew and then traded hibiscus, which was like the main ingredient in cough syrup at the time. Don't forget, at that time, Sudan was very new – Khartoum especially, in terms of on the map in terms of European consciousness, obviously not new in terms of how long it's actually been there. But it was kind of seen or perceived as this new frontier. It was a bit off the beaten track. There wasn't the mod cons or luxuries even of the day. So, it was people who were willing to take a little bit of a risk and dive into the unknown who would actually go to Sudan. MANYA: According to historian Naham Ilan, though the community was deeply traditional, it was largely secular and introduced many of Sudan's modern conveniences. Morris Goldenberg from Cairo was the first optician in Khartoum. Jimmy and Toni Cain, refugees from Germany, ran a music hall and cabaret. Jewish students attended private Christian schools. By 1906, the Jewish community of Egypt invited Rabbi Solomon Malka, a Moroccan rabbi who was ordained in British Mandate Palestine, to lead Sudan's Jewish community. He was supposed to stay for only a few years, but instead stayed and purchased his own manufacturing plants, producing sesame oil and macaroni. His son Eli would later write the foundational history of the community titled Jacob's Children in the Land of the Mahdi: Jews of the Sudan. DAISY: When Rabbi Malka came, he was the shochet, he was the mohel, he was the rabbi. He was everything, it was a one-man band. The community was already kind of focused in Khartoum in 1928 when the synagogue was built. The club was built in 1947. I think the peak in terms of numbers of the community was early to mid-1950s. And that was about 250 families. So even at its peak, it was a very small community. MANYA: Community is the key word. Everyone knew each other, looked out for each other, and when Israel was created in 1948, they raised money to help some of their fellow Jews seek opportunities in that new frontier. Those who left weren't fleeing Sudan – not yet. That shift didn't happen for at least another decade. When things did start to turn, Nessim Gaon would lead the exodus. He had seen what could happen when Jews ignored warning signs and stayed where they were unwelcome for too long. Gaon's family arrived in the early 20th Century when his father got a job working as a clerk for the British governor of Port Sudan. Gaon was born in Khartoum in 1922. ALEXANDRA: As for a lot of Sephardi families, they basically moved with opportunities and changes of power in different countries. So they went from Spain, to Italy, back to Spain. And then they went into the Arab lands. So I know that they went into Iraq, then they went into Turkey. And they spent quite some time actually in Turkey, until they finally went to Sudan and Egypt. MANYA: As a young man, Gaon left to attend the London School of Economics. Shortly after he returned, he encountered British officers recruiting soldiers to fight for Winston Churchill's campaign against the Nazis. ALEXANDRA: He just went in, signed up, and the next day, he was sent to the front. His family was not so excited about that. And he was actually under age, he wasn't really supposed to be able to sign up at that time. But when they figured out his age, you know, in the army, it was already too late. He just felt that he needed to be useful and do something. And that's what he did. MANYA: Though he knew about the uneasy life for Jews in Sudan preceding his family's arrival there, what Gaon witnessed during World War II while stationed in places like Iraq ensured he would never take for granted his safety as a Jew. ALEXANDRA: Even though he never spoke about all of the things that he saw in great detail, he did a lot after the war, to help survivors go to Israel. It was very important to him to try to help those who had survived to actually go into a place of safety. He knew what it meant to be a Jew in danger. MANYA: Gaon and his future wife of 68 years, Renee [Tamman], exchanged letters every day when he was away at war and kept every single one. And after his return, from that point on, they never spent more than three days apart. The couple soon began to build their family. But because of rudimentary medical care in Sudan, it was difficult. Three of their children died before their daughter Marguerite was born in 1956. They were buried in Khartoum's Jewish cemetery. Sudan became independent in 1956. But the ties to Egypt ran deep. Later that year, when French, British, and Israeli forces attacked Egypt over Gamel Abdel Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, the anti-Jewish tensions trickled south. DAISY: The Suez Crisis, in the end of 1956, kind of spikes a bit of antisemitism. There is a talk in the newspapers about antisemitism, Zionist things, plots. There were a few things that made life slightly more difficult, but not in a very impactful way on daily life. MANYA: There were other signs too. When the winner of the Miss Khartoum beauty pageant was discovered to be Jewish, she lost her crown. When Jews had matza imported from London for Passover, it had to be packaged in plain boxes without a Magen David. Given what Gaon had witnessed in World War II, that was enough to leave. He, his wife, and only daughter at the time went to Geneva. ALEXANDRA: That was a blooming community, they were happy, they were together. And they were able to create and expand on their Jewish life. And I think that, at some point, when it became clear, when they saw the signs of that antisemitism coming their way again, they just felt like, “OK, we've seen this before, not just in Sudan, but also from the history of the Holocaust. And we need to take proactive measures, and make sure that we're safe. MANYA: When they left, Gaon and his wife told no one. They packed only enough bags for a vacation. They even left the doors unlocked and food in the refrigerator so no one dropping by their home would get suspicious. ALEXANDRA: My grandmother always told us how some part of her broke a little when they just left the house. They really pretended that they were just going out and they would come back. They would tell us how hard it was when they turned and they looked at the house the last time and they knew that they had left most of their things. That they had a whole history there. That they had children there who were still going to be there and it was really difficult. And so, they took everything [with] them, left to Switzerland, and made a life there. MANYA: The decade that followed was particularly tumultuous in Sudan. The country had its first coup of many, and a military government took over. In 1960, all of the Jews who had left Sudan had their citizenship revoked. Another revolution in 1964 restored civilian rule. DAISY: It's at that time, that a lot of the north-south tension kind of comes into things. And there was a lot of violence in that revolution, a lot of rioting. And the violence was tribal, north-south tribalism, a lot of violence against southern tribes, people from the South in Sudan. But that scared the Jewish community that there would be violence and murders in the streets, and that signaled that this was no longer this stable country that they had been living in. And that's when more people start to leave. MANYA: By this point, acquiring an exit visa had become difficult for Jews, especially those who owned businesses and properties. Much like Gaon and his wife had left under cover of vacation, people began acquiring tourist visas with return tickets they never used. In the summer of 1967, the Six-Day War became a flashpoint in Khartoum. DAISY: There was a lot of rhetoric against Jews, in the newspapers, accusations of Zionism, Zionist spies, slurs, the lot. The Jewish young men who didn't know the right people to avoid it, were arrested for the duration of the war, and then released subsequently. And then after the Six Day War, the Arab League Summit, and the declaration of the three Nos. That actually happened in Khartoum, so you can imagine the atmosphere in Khartoum at that time was not pleasant. MANYA: The Three Nos. No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel. These were the pillars of the Khartoum Resolution, the Arab world's proclamation denying self-determination for the Jewish people in their biblical homeland. The Arab League Summit convened in Khartoum on August 29, 1967 and the resolution was adopted days later. Flore recalls how Muslim friends and colleagues suddenly turned on them. Returning home from a trip, her husband Ibrahim's business partner brought back a framed picture and insisted that Ibrahim read its engraved inscription out loud: “The world will not have peace until the last Jew is put to death by stoning,” it said. Another friend asked Flore one day where she hid the device she used to communicate with Israel, implying she was a spy. During a visit to Geneva, Ibrahim was warned not to return because there was a price on his head. Flore said their delayed departure was a source of tension between her and her husband, who even for years afterward, couldn't believe his beloved Sudan had betrayed them. But the time had come for most Jews, including the extended family that Nessim Gaon had left behind, to abandon their homes and fortunes in Sudan and join him. FLORE: My husband had confidence in them. And we had a lot of problems between my husband and me because of this. Because I said ‘Ibrahim, this is not a country for us.' He says: ‘You don't know anything. They won't harm us. They won't do that.' He had confidence, he couldn't believe it. Until my husband became very old. He died at the age of 94. And he always, always, in his heart, he said that they cannot harm us. But he had illusions. He had illusions. MANYA: The Gaons also could not return. It was simply too dangerous. But in the 1970s, when Nessim Gaon learned vandals might have desecrated the Jewish cemetery in Khartoum, he resolved to retrieve their children and other family members who were buried there. From a distance, he coordinated an airlift for several prominent Sudanese families, including Rabbi Malka's descendants, to transfer the remains of their loved ones out of Sudan to be reburied in Jerusalem where he knew they would be safer. It was this sincere belief about the promise of Israel and the promise of peace in the region that led Gaon to encourage and attend a meeting between Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat in 1977. ALEXANDRA: He saw opportunities there to create a peace with Egypt and he told Menachem Begin we can create peace with the Arab countries. And so Menachem Begin took him to meet with Anwar el-Sadat. They had a meeting and they hit it off right away, because they spoke the same language, they came from the same place. MANYA: Over the next two years, Gaon worked discreetly in the background to ease both of their minds, find common ground, and reach a consensus. When the two leaders were ready to sign a treaty in 1979, Gaon gave them both the Swiss pens they used to make it official. ALEXANDRA: They actually called him first thing after signing, and told him: ‘Nessim, it happened. We did it.' And, you know, it was something that he was very proud of, but that we were not really allowed to talk about in the outside. He truly believed in the possibilities, in the outcome. That's what he focused on. He wanted to better the lives of people both in Israel and in Egypt, and he cared about, you know, the Sephardi Jews that were part of that narrative as well. MANYA: Sudan was one of only two Arab nations who supported the accord. Egypt was suspended from the Arab League for ten years and el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Still, Gaon never stopped trying to pave the way for more peace negotiations. In fact, much later Israel tapped him to meet privately with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the same. ALEXANDRA: We did not really want him to go and meet with Arafat because we were worried. I mean, Arafat had a long history of terrorism and we were a little bit scared. Arafat actually told him that at some point, there was a murder order on his head. They were considering killing my grandfather. And they decided not to, because he realized that he was an Arab like him. When my grandfather told us about this, we all went like, [gasp], what are you saying? But he was very calm about it. And he said: ‘You know, I, I stood there and Arafat told [me], I knew that you were doing a lot of good things. And you know, you were not doing anything bad towards the Arab populations. And you are very respectful. This is your background as well. And so we decided not to go ahead with it.' But I think my grandfather found it very difficult to talk to Arafat. And Arafat was not ready to make peace. MANYA: By this time Gaon had become a grandfather, Alexandra's Nono – the one who taught her how to whistle and play backgammon. The one who blessed her before long trips. The one who taught her his first language, Arabic. The one who passed down his love for the beauty of Sephardic Jewry and his concern about it being overshadowed and undervalued around the world and in Israel. ALEXANDRA: He was so idealistic about Israel, and really believed in it and thought it was such an important project. He also was very critical of it in terms of its treatment of Sephardic Jews. He was very sensitive to it, and he really worked hard to change that. He was a little bit darker skinned. And he came from Sudan, he was born there. So he saw himself really, as a Sephardic Jew who had the opportunity here to educate this new country and to help this new country understand how Sephardic Jews could actually help and be positive agents within the country. MANYA: He also believed that the Jewish world must acknowledge and respect its own rich diversity for the benefit of everyone – Jewish, non-Jewish, Israeli or Diaspora. As president of the World Sephardi Federation, he traveled the world to encourage others to step up and show that Jewish history is not just an Eastern European, Ashkenazi narrative. ALEXANDRA: The more you're open to people who come from a different background, the more you also know how to interact with non-Jews and with countries that are maybe antagonistic to you. I think that it was a way for him to sort of bridge conflict to say: if you make an effort within the Jewish people, then you learn how to talk to everybody. MANYA: Daisy Abboudi said telling the stories of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews is complicated. Are they migrants? Are they refugees? What do they want to be called, and why? And then there's the ambivalence some Israelis have had about welcoming all Jews, some of whom still feel affection for nations that wish Israel did not exist. In their eyes, it's a fine line between affection and loyalty. DAISY: It's not an easily packaged short story. It feeds into so many different kinds of strands and politics and it's such a messy period of history anyway, with colonialism and the end of colonialism and nationalism, and, and, and, and. I think it is too big and too much for people to kind of get their heads around. And so people just don't. MANYA: But Gaon believed that leveling the playing field and making sure everyone has equal opportunities to education and leadership is where it starts. As part of Project Renewal, he often walked the streets of the most distressed neighborhoods in Israel to hear firsthand what residents there needed and advocated for them. In addition to the scholarships, bar mitzvah programs, and Project Renewal initiative, Gaon also held court at the King David Hotel whenever he traveled to Jerusalem. Sephardi residents would line up around the block to meet the man who invested and believed in them. ALEXANDRA: Years later, when he was quite influential, he got a letter from the Sudanese government to tell him that they would love it if he took back the nationality. At the time, he decided not to. He wanted to keep the memories and the life that he had in Sudan and all of the legacy of Sudan without specifically being connected to a government or a political situation that he disagreed with and that was difficult and unpleasant to Jews. I know that oftentimes, I asked him, would you want to go visit Sudan? If you could, would you? And you know, he would tell me, ‘Well, I have this image in my head. And I want to keep it that way.' And I think that it was so loaded for him in terms of memories, in terms of, you know, vibrancy of life and what he experienced, and I think he wanted to leave it that way, and not be sort of surprised or sad, or, shocked by the changes possibly. I think he wanted to keep it as this frozen image. I hope that one day I can go both to Sudan and to Egypt and see those places myself and get a sense of putting the pieces of the puzzle together and getting a sense of what life might have been. MANYA: It's unclear when it will be safe for Jews to travel to Sudan again. Between November 1984 and January 1985, Sudanese, Israeli and U.S. officials worked with Gaon and Alexandra's father, Joel Herzog, to facilitate an airlift of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan to Israel. Operation Moses, as it was called, ended abruptly in January 1985 as soon as Sudan's Arab allies caught wind of the joint effort, stranding many Ethiopian Jews there. Some were eventually rescued, but not all. ALEXANDRA: He not only helped fund the mission, which was very secretive, but he also took care of all of the details of the infrastructure from making sure that they could take a bus, to the plane, to a ship. He really took care of all of the details. And it was important to him because he wanted to make sure that fellow Jews would be in a place of safety. MANYA: Tribal conflict and civil wars also have continued. Feeling neglected by Khartoum, the largely agrarian South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after two civil wars. Warring factions within the South agreed to a coalition government in 2020. Meanwhile, since 2003, millions of Darfuri men, women and children from three different ethnic groups have been targeted in what is considered the first genocide of the 21st Century – atrocities that continue today. In 2019, Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was pushed out of office by a series of peaceful protests. The following year, Sudan's fledgling civilian government announced its intentions to join the Abraham Accords as part of a larger effort to engage with the international community and secure international assistance. This included an agreement by the United States to remove Sudan from its state sponsor of terrorism list. But yet another military coup in 2021 derailed any efforts toward diplomacy and that plan was put on hold until a civilian government is restored. Gaon died before seeing it become a reality. ALEXANDRA: He really saw Sudan as his home. That was the place that he knew, that he grew up in. And I mean, again, he had gone to London before to study, he still came back to Sudan. You know, he went to war, he came back to Sudan and came with a lot of different layers of understanding of what it meant to be a Jew, in a lot of different countries, a lot of different places. MANYA: Alexandra said he carried those layers and lessons with him throughout his life, as well as immense pride that he came from a long lineage of people living in Arab lands. For Nessim Gaon, the Jewish tradition was and always should be a big, diverse, inclusive tent. ALEXANDRA: One of the memories that really sticks with me is how during the Kohanim prayers at the synagogue, my grandfather would take his tallit, his prayer shawl, and put it on top of all of his children and grandchildren. And my grandmother would do the exact same thing with us in the women's section. And of course, from time to time I would peek and look at this beautiful tent that was extended above all of my family members. And what was really special to me, was how we knew at that moment that we were being blessed by both my grandparents and that if someone was around and looked completely alone, they were welcomed under our tent. And this really represents for me, what my grandparents were, they were warm. They were inclusive, loving and generous. And really they extended the tent, our family tent, to all the Jewish people. MANYA: Sudanese Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left Arab countries to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Join us next week as we share another untold story of The Forgotten Exodus. Many thanks to Alexandra, Flore, and Diana for sharing their families' stories. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories. Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891-1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch. Tune in every Friday for AJC's weekly podcast about global affairs through a Jewish lens, People of the Pod, brought to you by the same team behind The Forgotten Exodus. Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC. You can reach us at email@example.com. If you've enjoyed the episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.
In December 2020, an Israeli football club made worldwide headlines. The news that a UAE royal had bought 50 per cent of Beitar's shares shook Israel and the football world. Beitar, proclaimed by some of its own fans as 'the most racist club in the country', is a club like no other in Israel. While Israeli football as a whole is a space where Israelis of all ethnicities and foreigners can co-exist, Beitar won't even sign a Muslim player for fear of its own far-right supporters' group, La Familia. On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World (Pitch Publishing, 2022) is the fascinating tale of a club that began as a sports movement of a liberal national Zionism party and became an overt symbol of right-wing views, Mizrahi identity and eventually hardcore racism and nationalism. The book explores the radicalisation of Beitar and the fight for the soul of the club between the racists and open-minded fans. It is also a story of Jerusalem, the most volatile place on Earth, and how the holy city and the influence of religion have shaped Beitar. Founded in 1936, the club took its name from a Zionist organization set up in 1923 by students in the capital of Latvia, Riga, following a visit by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist Revisionist and founder of the paramilitary group Irgun. Beitar's story mirrors that of its city. For thirty years, under the British Mandate, impoverished young Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) had kicked a ball around Jerusalem's Musrara neighbourhood with Arab friends. The war of 1948 changed that. Subsequent events sharpened the divide, leading to the unrepentant racism of La Familia, Beitar “ultras” who began by making monkey noises at a player from Cameroon and graduated to chants threatening death to Arabs. Employing violence and intimidation, they ensured no Muslim could play for Beitar, thereby betraying a key element of Jabotinsky's scheme – equality for Arabs. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history
In December 2020, an Israeli football club made worldwide headlines. The news that a UAE royal had bought 50 per cent of Beitar's shares shook Israel and the football world. Beitar, proclaimed by some of its own fans as 'the most racist club in the country', is a club like no other in Israel. While Israeli football as a whole is a space where Israelis of all ethnicities and foreigners can co-exist, Beitar won't even sign a Muslim player for fear of its own far-right supporters' group, La Familia. On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World (Pitch Publishing, 2022) is the fascinating tale of a club that began as a sports movement of a liberal national Zionism party and became an overt symbol of right-wing views, Mizrahi identity and eventually hardcore racism and nationalism. The book explores the radicalisation of Beitar and the fight for the soul of the club between the racists and open-minded fans. It is also a story of Jerusalem, the most volatile place on Earth, and how the holy city and the influence of religion have shaped Beitar. Founded in 1936, the club took its name from a Zionist organization set up in 1923 by students in the capital of Latvia, Riga, following a visit by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist Revisionist and founder of the paramilitary group Irgun. Beitar's story mirrors that of its city. For thirty years, under the British Mandate, impoverished young Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) had kicked a ball around Jerusalem's Musrara neighbourhood with Arab friends. The war of 1948 changed that. Subsequent events sharpened the divide, leading to the unrepentant racism of La Familia, Beitar “ultras” who began by making monkey noises at a player from Cameroon and graduated to chants threatening death to Arabs. Employing violence and intimidation, they ensured no Muslim could play for Beitar, thereby betraying a key element of Jabotinsky's scheme – equality for Arabs. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sports
In December 2020, an Israeli football club made worldwide headlines. The news that a UAE royal had bought 50 per cent of Beitar's shares shook Israel and the football world. Beitar, proclaimed by some of its own fans as 'the most racist club in the country', is a club like no other in Israel. While Israeli football as a whole is a space where Israelis of all ethnicities and foreigners can co-exist, Beitar won't even sign a Muslim player for fear of its own far-right supporters' group, La Familia. On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World (Pitch Publishing, 2022) is the fascinating tale of a club that began as a sports movement of a liberal national Zionism party and became an overt symbol of right-wing views, Mizrahi identity and eventually hardcore racism and nationalism. The book explores the radicalisation of Beitar and the fight for the soul of the club between the racists and open-minded fans. It is also a story of Jerusalem, the most volatile place on Earth, and how the holy city and the influence of religion have shaped Beitar. Founded in 1936, the club took its name from a Zionist organization set up in 1923 by students in the capital of Latvia, Riga, following a visit by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist Revisionist and founder of the paramilitary group Irgun. Beitar's story mirrors that of its city. For thirty years, under the British Mandate, impoverished young Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) had kicked a ball around Jerusalem's Musrara neighbourhood with Arab friends. The war of 1948 changed that. Subsequent events sharpened the divide, leading to the unrepentant racism of La Familia, Beitar “ultras” who began by making monkey noises at a player from Cameroon and graduated to chants threatening death to Arabs. Employing violence and intimidation, they ensured no Muslim could play for Beitar, thereby betraying a key element of Jabotinsky's scheme – equality for Arabs. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies
In December 2020, an Israeli football club made worldwide headlines. The news that a UAE royal had bought 50 per cent of Beitar's shares shook Israel and the football world. Beitar, proclaimed by some of its own fans as 'the most racist club in the country', is a club like no other in Israel. While Israeli football as a whole is a space where Israelis of all ethnicities and foreigners can co-exist, Beitar won't even sign a Muslim player for fear of its own far-right supporters' group, La Familia. On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World (Pitch Publishing, 2022) is the fascinating tale of a club that began as a sports movement of a liberal national Zionism party and became an overt symbol of right-wing views, Mizrahi identity and eventually hardcore racism and nationalism. The book explores the radicalisation of Beitar and the fight for the soul of the club between the racists and open-minded fans. It is also a story of Jerusalem, the most volatile place on Earth, and how the holy city and the influence of religion have shaped Beitar. Founded in 1936, the club took its name from a Zionist organization set up in 1923 by students in the capital of Latvia, Riga, following a visit by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist Revisionist and founder of the paramilitary group Irgun. Beitar's story mirrors that of its city. For thirty years, under the British Mandate, impoverished young Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) had kicked a ball around Jerusalem's Musrara neighbourhood with Arab friends. The war of 1948 changed that. Subsequent events sharpened the divide, leading to the unrepentant racism of La Familia, Beitar “ultras” who began by making monkey noises at a player from Cameroon and graduated to chants threatening death to Arabs. Employing violence and intimidation, they ensured no Muslim could play for Beitar, thereby betraying a key element of Jabotinsky's scheme – equality for Arabs. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/israel-studies
In December 2020, an Israeli football club made worldwide headlines. The news that a UAE royal had bought 50 per cent of Beitar's shares shook Israel and the football world. Beitar, proclaimed by some of its own fans as 'the most racist club in the country', is a club like no other in Israel. While Israeli football as a whole is a space where Israelis of all ethnicities and foreigners can co-exist, Beitar won't even sign a Muslim player for fear of its own far-right supporters' group, La Familia. On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World (Pitch Publishing, 2022) is the fascinating tale of a club that began as a sports movement of a liberal national Zionism party and became an overt symbol of right-wing views, Mizrahi identity and eventually hardcore racism and nationalism. The book explores the radicalisation of Beitar and the fight for the soul of the club between the racists and open-minded fans. It is also a story of Jerusalem, the most volatile place on Earth, and how the holy city and the influence of religion have shaped Beitar. Founded in 1936, the club took its name from a Zionist organization set up in 1923 by students in the capital of Latvia, Riga, following a visit by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist Revisionist and founder of the paramilitary group Irgun. Beitar's story mirrors that of its city. For thirty years, under the British Mandate, impoverished young Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries) had kicked a ball around Jerusalem's Musrara neighbourhood with Arab friends. The war of 1948 changed that. Subsequent events sharpened the divide, leading to the unrepentant racism of La Familia, Beitar “ultras” who began by making monkey noises at a player from Cameroon and graduated to chants threatening death to Arabs. Employing violence and intimidation, they ensured no Muslim could play for Beitar, thereby betraying a key element of Jabotinsky's scheme – equality for Arabs. Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter and IG: @robbyref Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/new-books-network
On this episode, Jewish Currents Contributing Editor Joshua Leifer talks with Oren Ziv—co-founder of the award-winning photojournalist collective Activestills and reporter for +972 Magazine and its Hebrew sister site, Local Call—about Oren's decade-plus experience documenting protest and resistance in Israel/Palestine. Since the Activestills collective's founding in 2005, Ziv and the group have captured some of the most iconic, and often painful, images of social and political struggle: from the demonstrations against the Israeli separation barrier in the late 2000s, to the campaign for African asylum seekers' rights in the 2010s, to the opposition to gentrification in the Mizrahi neighborhood of Givat Amal, and much more. Ziv's own dogged reporting has made him one of the most perceptive journalists in the field; through his camera, Ziv has opened up the injustices of the occupation to the world. Ziv discusses his journalistic method and the experience of documenting the violence of apartheid. One note: This conversation was recorded before August 18th, when Israeli forces https://www.972mag.com/palestinian-ngos-army-raids-offices/ (raided and sealed) the offices of six leading Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations in the occupied West Bank. Articles, Statements, and Websites Mentioned “https://www.972mag.com/bilin-photographing-a-decade-of-popular-struggle/ (Bil'in: Photographing a decade of popular struggle)” by Activestills “https://www.972mag.com/desperation-and-hope-in-the-eviction-of-givat-amal/ (Desperation and hope in the eviction of Givat Amal)” by Haggai Matar “https://www.972mag.com/reconstruction-of-umm-al-hiran-killings-proves-no-car-ramming-attack/ (Reconstruction of Umm al-Hiran killings disproves car-ramming claims)” by Yael Marom https://www.972mag.com/watch-visual-analysis-undermines-police-version-of-events-in-umm-el-hiran/ (Visual investigation of Umm al-Hiran incident), by Forensic Architecture and Activiestills “https://www.972mag.com/joint-attacks-israeli-settlers-soldiers/ (Joint militias: How settlers and soldiers teamed up to kill four Palestinians)” by Yuval Abraham “https://www.972mag.com/sent-to-rwanda-by-israel-we-have-no-food-or-work-dont-come-here/ (Sent to Rwanda by Israel: ‘We have no food or work. Don't come here)'” by Oren Ziv “https://www.972mag.com/at-tel-aviv-rally-a-mizrahi-asylum-seeker-alliance-is-born/ (At Tel Aviv rally, a Mizrahi-asylum seeker alliance is born)” by Joshua Leifer “https://www.npr.org/2022/06/24/1107254898/israeli-gunfire-shireen-abu-akleh-un-human-rights (Israeli gunfire killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, U.N. says)” by Bill Chappell “https://theintercept.com/2021/11/04/secret-israel-dossier-palestinian-rights-terrorist/ (Secret Israeli document offers no proof to justify terror label for Palestinian groups)” by Yuval Abraham, Oren Ziv, and Meron Rapoport “‘https://www.972mag.com/palestinian-ngo-directors-shin-bet/ (You will pay the price': Shin Bet threatens Palestinian NGO directors)” by Oren Ziv “‘https://www.972mag.com/gaza-soldiers-civilians-intelligence/ (We killed a little boy, but it was within the rules)'” by Yuval Abraham “https://www.972mag.com/netanyahu-authoritarian-protests-corruption/ (Netanyahu's authoritarian rule is turning Israelis against the state)” by Meron Rapoport “https://www.972mag.com/peace-now-balfour-settlements-outposts/ (Peace Now is taking direct action against settler outposts. Can it succeed?)” by Oren Ziv and Meron Rapoport “https://www.thenation.com/article/world/palestine-israel-green-line/ (The End of the Green Line—Two Views)” by Haggai Matar Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”
One of the top Jewish podcasts in the U.S., American Jewish Committee's (AJC) The Forgotten Exodus, is the first-ever narrative podcast to focus exclusively on Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. In this week's episode, we feature Jews from Egypt. In the first half of the 20th century, Egypt went through profound social and political upheavals culminating in the rise of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and his campaign of Arabization, creating an oppressive atmosphere for the country's Jews, and leading almost all to flee or be kicked out of the country. Hear the personal story of award-winning author André Aciman as he recounts the heart-wrenching details of the pervasive antisemitism during his childhood in Alexandria and his family's expulsion in 1965, which he wrote about in his memoir Out of Egypt, and also inspired his novel Call Me by Your Name. Joining Aciman is Deborah Starr, a professor of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Cornell University, who chronicles the history of Egypt's Jewish community that dates back millennia, and the events that led to their erasure from Egypt's collective memory. Aciman's modern-day Jewish exodus story is one that touches on identity, belonging, and nationality: Where is your home when you become a refugee at age 14? Be sure to follow The Forgotten Exodus before the next episode drops on August 22. ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Song credits: Rampi Rampi, Aksaray'in Taslari, Bir Demet Yasemen by Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road Pond5: “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Frontiers”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Pete Checkley (BMI), IPI#380407375 “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. “Middle Eastern Arabic Oud”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989 ___ Episode Transcript: ANDRÉ ACIMAN: I've lived in New York for 50 years. Is it my home? Not really. But Egypt was never going to be my home. It had become oppressive to be Jewish. MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus. Today's episode: leaving Egypt. Author André Aciman can't stand Passover Seders. They are long and tedious. Everyone gets hungry long before it's time to eat. It's also an unwelcome reminder of when André was 14 and his family was forced to leave Egypt – the only home he had ever known. On their last night there, he recounts his family gathered for one last Seder in his birthplace. ANDRÉ: By the time I was saying goodbye, the country, Egypt, had essentially become sort of Judenrein. MANYA: Judenrein is the term of Nazi origin meaning “free of Jews”. Most, if not all of the Jews, had already left. ANDRÉ: By the time we were kicked out, we were kicked out literally from Egypt, my parents had already had a life in Egypt. My mother was born in Egypt, she had been wealthy. My father became wealthy. And of course, they had a way of living life that they knew they were abandoning. They had no idea what was awaiting them. They knew it was going to be different, but they had no sense. I, for one, being younger, I just couldn't wait to leave. Because it had become oppressive to be Jewish. As far as I was concerned, it was goodbye. Thank you very much. I'm going. MANYA: André Aciman is best known as the author whose novel inspired the Oscar-winning film Call Me By Your Name – which is as much a tale of coming to terms with being Jewish and a minority, as it is an exquisite coming of age love story set in a villa on the Italian Riviera. What readers and moviegoers didn't know is that the Italian villa is just a stand-in. The story's setting– its distant surf, serpentine architecture, and lush gardens where Elio and Oliver's romance blooms and Elio's spiritual awakening unfolds – is an ode to André's lost home, the coastal Egyptian city of Alexandria. There, three generations of his Sephardic family had rebuilt the lives they left behind elsewhere as the Ottoman Empire crumbled, two world wars unfolded, a Jewish homeland was born, and nationalistic fervor swept across the Arab world and North Africa. There, in Alexandria, his family had enjoyed a cosmopolitan city and vibrant Jewish home. Until they couldn't and had to leave. ANDRÉ: I would be lying if I said that I didn't project many things lost into my novels. In other words, to be able to re-experience the beach, I created a beach house. And that beach house has become, as you know, quite famous around the world. But it was really a portrait of the beach house that we had lost in Egypt. And many things like that, I pilfer from my imagined past and dump into my books. And people always tell me, ‘God, you captured Italy so well.' Actually, that was not Italy, I hate to tell you. It was my reimagined or reinvented Egypt transposed into Italy and made to come alive again. MANYA: Before he penned Call Me By Your Name, André wrote his first book, Out of Egypt, a touching memoir about his family's picturesque life in Alexandria, the underlying anxiety that it could always vanish and how, under the nationalization effort led by Egypt's President Gamel Abdel Nassar, it did vanish. The memoir ends with the events surrounding the family's last Passover Seder before they say farewell. ANDRÉ: This was part of the program of President Nasser, which was to take, particularly Alexandria, and turn it into an Egyptian city, sort of, purified of all European influences. And it worked. As, by the way, and this is the biggest tragedy that happens to, particularly to Jews, is when a culture decides to expunge its Jews or to remove them in one way or another, it succeeds. It does succeed. You have a sense that it is possible for a culture to remove an entire population. And this is part of the Jewish experience to accept that this happens. MANYA: Egypt did not just expunge its Jewish community. It managed to erase Jews from the nation's collective memory. Only recently have people begun to rediscover the centuries of rich Jewish history in Egypt, including native Egyptian Jews dating back millennia. In addition, Egypt became a destination for Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th Century. And after the Suez Canal opened in 1869, a wave of more Jews came from the Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Greece. And at the end of the 19th Century, Ashkenazi Jews arrived, fleeing from European pogroms. DEBORAH STARR: The Jewish community in Egypt was very diverse. The longest standing community in Egypt would have been Arabic speaking Jews, we would say now Mizrahi Jews. MANYA: That's Deborah Starr, Professor of Modern Arabic and Hebrew Literature and Film at Cornell University. Her studies of cosmopolitan Egypt through a lens of literature and cinema have given her a unique window into how Jews arrived and left Egypt and how that history has been portrayed. She says Jews had a long history in Egypt through the Islamic period and a small population remained in the 19th century. Then a wave of immigration came. DEBORAH: We have an economic boom in Egypt. Jews start coming from around the Ottoman Empire, from around the Mediterranean, emigrating to Egypt from across North Africa. And so, from around 5,000 Jews in the middle of the 19th century, by the middle of the 20th century, at its peak, the Egyptian Jews numbered somewhere between 75 and 80,000. So, it was a significant increase, and you know, much more so than just the birth rate would explain. MANYA: André's family was part of that wave, having endured a series of exiles from Spain, Italy, and Turkey, before reaching Egypt. DEBORAH: Egypt has its independence movement, the 1919 revolution, which is characterized by this discourse of coexistence, that ‘we're all in this together.' There are images of Muslims and Christians marching together. Jews were also supportive of this movement. There's this real sense of a plurality, of a pluralist society in Egypt, that's really evident in the ways that this movement is characterized. The interwar period is really this very vibrant time in Egyptian culture, but also this time of significant transition in its relationship to the British in the various movements, political movements that emerge in this period, and movements that will have a huge impact on the fate of the Jews of Egypt in the coming decades. MANYA: One of those movements was Zionism, the movement to establish a Jewish state in the biblical homeland of the Jews. In 1917, during the First World War, the British government occupying Egypt at the time, issued a public statement of support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, still an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. That statement became known as the Balfour Declaration. DEBORAH: There was certainly evidence of a certain excitement about the Balfour Declaration of 1917. A certain amount of general support for the idea that Jews are going to live there, but not a whole lot of movement themselves. But we also have these really interesting examples of people who were on the record as supporting, of seeing themselves as Egyptians, as part of the anti-colonial Egyptian nationalism, who also gave financial support to the Jewish project in Palestine. And so, so there wasn't this sense of—you can't be one or the other. There wasn't this radical split. MANYA: Another movement unfolding simultaneously was the impulse to reclaim Egypt's independence, not just in legal terms – Egypt had technically gained independence from the British in 1922 – but suddenly what it meant to be Egyptian was defined against this foreign colonial power that had imposed its will on Egypt for years and still maintained a significant presence. DEBORAH: We also see moves within Egypt, toward the ‘Egyptianization' of companies or laws that start saying, we want to, we want to give priority to our citizens, because the economy had been so dominated by either foreigners or people who were local but had foreign nationality. And this begins to disproportionately affect the Jews. Because so many of the Jews, you know, had been immigrants a generation or two earlier, some of them had either achieved protected status or, you know, arrived with papers from, from one or another of these European powers. MANYA: In 1929, Egypt adopted its first law giving citizenship to its residents. But it was not universally applied. By this time, the conflict in Palestine and the rise of Zionism had shifted how the Egyptian establishment viewed Jews. DEBORAH: Particularly the Jews who had lived there for a really long time, some of whom were among the lower classes, who didn't travel to Europe every summer and didn't need papers to prove their citizenship, by the time they started seeing that it was worthwhile for them to get citizenship, it was harder for Jews to be approved. So, by the end, we do have a pretty substantial number of Jews who end up stateless. MANYA: Stateless. But not for long. In 1948, the Jewish state declared independence. In response, King Farouk of Egypt joined four other Arab nations in declaring war on the newly formed nation. And they lost. The Arab nations' stunning defeat in that first Arab-Israeli War sparked a clandestine movement to overthrow the Egyptian monarchy, which was still seen as being in the pocket of the British. One of the orchestrators of that plot, known as the Free Officers Movement, was Col. Gamel Abdel Nassar. In 1952, a coup sent King Farouk on his way to Italy and Nassar eventually emerged as president. The official position of the Nassar regime was one of tolerance for the Jews. But that didn't always seem to be the case. DEBORAH: Between 1948 and ‘52, you do have a notable number of Jews who leave Egypt at this point who see the writing on the wall. Maybe they don't have very deep roots in Egypt, they've only been there for one or two generations, they have another nationality, they have someplace to go. About a third of the Jews who leave Egypt in the middle of the 20th century go to Europe, France, particularly. To a certain extent Italy. About a third go to the Americas, and about a third go to Israel. And among those who go to Israel, it's largely those who end up stateless. They have no place else to go because of those nationality laws that I mentioned earlier, have no choice but to go to Israel. MANYA: Those who stayed became especially vulnerable to the Nassar regime's sequestration of businesses. Then in 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, a 120-mile-long waterway that connected the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean by way of the Red Sea – that same waterway that created opportunities for migration in the region a century earlier. DEBORAH: The real watershed moment is the 1956 Suez conflict. Israel, in collaboration with France, and Great Britain attacks Egypt, the conflict breaks out, you know, the French and the British come into the war on the side of the Israelis. And each of the powers has their own reasons for wanting, I mean, Nasser's threatening Israeli shipping, and, threatening the security of Israel, the French and the British, again, have their own reasons for trying to either take back the canal, or, just at least bring Nassar down a peg. MANYA: At war with France and Britain, Egypt targeted and expelled anyone with French and British nationality, including many Jews, but not exclusively. DEBORAH: But this is also the moment where I think there's a big pivot in how Jews feel about being in Egypt. And so, we start seeing larger waves of emigration, after 1956. So, this is really sort of the peak of the wave of emigration. MANYA: André's family stayed. They already had endured a series of exiles. His father, an aspiring writer who copied passages by Marcel Proust into his diary, had set that dream aside to open a textile factory, rebuild from nothing what the family had lost elsewhere, and prepare young André to eventually take over the family business. He wasn't about to walk away from the family fortune – again. DEBORAH: André Aciman's story is quite, as I said, the majority of the Jewish community leaves in the aftermath of 1956. And his family stays a lot longer. So, he has incredible insights into what happens over that period, where the community has already significantly diminished. MANYA: Indeed, over the next nine years, the situation worsened. The Egyptian government took his father's factory, monitored their every move, frequently called the house with harassing questions about their whereabouts, or knocked on the door to issue warrants for his father's arrest, only to bring him in for more interrogation. As much as André's father clung to life in Egypt, it was becoming a less viable option with each passing day. ANDRÉ: He knew that the way Egypt was going, there was no room for him, really. And I remember during the last two years, in our last two years in Egypt, there wAs constantly references to the fact that we were going to go, this was not lasting, you know, what are we going to do? Where do we think we should go? And so on and so forth. So, this was a constant sort of conversation we were having. MANYA: Meanwhile, young André encountered a level of antisemitism that scarred him deeply and shaped his perception of how the world perceives Jews. ANDRÉ: It was oppressive in good part because people started throwing stones in the streets. So, there was a sense of ‘Get out of here. We don't want you here.' MANYA: It was in the streets and in the schools, which were undergoing an Arabization after the end of British rule, making Arabic the new lingua franca and antisemitism the norm. ANDRÉ: There's no question that antisemitism was now rooted in place. In my school, where I went, I went to a British school, but it had become Egyptian, although they taught English, predominantly English, but we had to take Arabic classes, in sort of social sciences, in history, and in Arabic as well. And in the Arabic class, which I took for many years, I had to study poems that were fundamentally anti-Jewish. Not just anti-Israeli, which is a big distinction that people like to make, it doesn't stick. I was reading and reciting poems that were against me. And the typical cartoon for a Jew was a man with a beard, big tummy, hook nose, and I knew ‘This is really me, isn't it? OK.' And so you look at yourself with a saber, right, running through it with an Egyptian flag. And I'll never forget this. This was, basically I was told that this is something I had to learn and accept and side with – by the teachers, and by the books themselves. And the irony of the whole thing is that one of the best tutors we had, was actually the headmaster of the Jewish school. He was Jewish in very sort of—very Orthodox himself. And he was teaching me how to recite those poems that were anti-Jewish. And of course, he had to do it with a straight face. MANYA: One by one, Jewish neighbors lost their livelihoods and unable to overcome the stigma, packed their bags and left. In his memoir, André recalls how prior to each family's departure, the smell of leather lingered in their homes from the dozens of suitcases they had begun to pack. By 1965, the smell of leather began to waft through André's home. ANDRÉ: Eventually, one morning, or one afternoon, I came back from school. And my father said to me, ‘You know, they don't want us here anymore.' Those were exactly the words he used. ‘They don't want us here.' I said, ‘What do you mean?' ‘Well, they've expelled us.' And I was expelled with my mother and my brother, sooner than my father was. So, we had to leave the country. We realized we were being expelled, maybe in spring, and we left in May. And so, for about a month or so, the house was a mess because there were suitcases everywhere, and people. My mother was packing constantly, constantly. But we knew we were going to go to Italy, we knew we had an uncle in Italy who was going to host us, or at least make life livable for us when we arrived. We had obtained Italian papers, obtained through various means. I mean, whatever. They're not exactly legitimate ways of getting a citizenship, but it was given to my father, and he took it. And we changed our last name from Ajiman, which is how it was pronounced, to Aciman because the Italians saw the C and assumed it was that. My father had some money in Europe already. So that was going to help us survive. But we knew my mother and I and my brother, that we were now sort of functionally poor. MANYA: In hindsight, André now knows the family's expulsion at that time was the best thing that could have happened. Two years later, Israel trounced Egypt in the Six-Day War, nearly destroying the Egyptian Air Force, taking control of the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai Peninsula, as well as territory from Egypt's allies in the conflict, Syria and Jordan. The few remaining Jews in Egypt were sent to internment camps, including the chief rabbis of Cairo and Alexandria and the family of one of André's schoolmates whose father was badly beaten. After three years in Italy, André's family joined his mother's sister in America, confirming once and for all that their life in Egypt was gone. ANDRÉ: I think there was a kind of declaration of their condition. In other words, they never overcame the fact that they had lost a way of life. And of course, the means to sustain that life was totally taken away, because they were nationalized, and had their property sequestered, everything was taken away from them. So, they were tossed into the wild sea. My mother basically knew how to shut the book on Egypt, she stopped thinking about Egypt, she was an American now. She was very happy to have become a citizen of the United States. Whereas my father, who basically was the one who had lost more than she had, because he had built his own fortune himself, never overcame it. And so, he led a life of the exile who continues to go to places and to restaurants that are costly, but that he can still manage to afford if he watches himself. So, he never took cabs, he always took the bus. Then he lived a pauper's life, but with good clothing, because he still had all his clothing from his tailor in Egypt. But it was a bit of a production, a performance for him. MANYA: André's father missed the life he had in Egypt. André longs for the life he could've had there. ANDRÉ: I was going to study in England, I was going to come back to Egypt, I was going to own the factory. This was kind of inscribed in my genes at that point. And of course, you give up that, as I like to say, and I've written about this many times, is that whatever you lose, or whatever never happened, continues to sort of sub-exist somewhere in your mind. In other words, it's something that has been taken away from you, even though it never existed. MANYA: But like his mother, André moved on. In fact, he says moving on is part of the Jewish experience. Married with sons of his own, he now is a distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, teaching the history of literary theory. He is also one of the foremost experts on Marcel Proust, that French novelist whose passages his father once transcribed in his diaries. André's own novels and anthologies have won awards and inspired Academy Award-winning screenplays. Like Israel opened its doors and welcomed all of those stateless Egyptian Jews, America opened doors for André. Going to college in the Bronx after growing up in Egypt and Italy? That introduced him to being openly Jewish. ANDRÉ: I went to Lehman College, as an undergraduate, I came to the States in September. I came too late to go to college, but I went to an event at that college in October or November, and already people were telling me they were Jewish. You know, ‘I'm Jewish, and this and that,' and, and so I felt ‘Oh, God, it's like, you mean people can be natural about their Judaism? And so, I began saying to people, ‘I'm Jewish, too,' or I would no longer feel this sense of hiding my Jewishness, which came when I came to America. Not before. Not in Italy. Not in Egypt certainly. But the experience of being in a place that was fundamentally all Jewish, like being in the Bronx in 1968, was mind opening for me, it was: I can let everything down, I can be Jewish like everybody else. It's no longer a secret. I don't have to pretend that I was a Protestant when I didn't even know what kind of Protestant I was. As a person growing up in an antisemitic environment. You have many guards, guardrails in place, so you know how not to let it out this way, or that way or this other way. You don't speak about matzah. You don't speak about charoset. You don't speak about anything, so as to prevent yourself from giving out that you're Jewish. MANYA: Though the doors had been flung open and it felt much safer to be openly Jewish, André to this day cannot forget the antisemitism that poisoned his formative years. ANDRÉ: I assume that everybody's antisemitic at some point. It is very difficult to meet someone who is not Jewish, who, after they've had many drinks, will not turn out to be slightly more antisemitic than you expected. It is there. It's culturally dominant. And so, you have to live with this. As my grandmother used to say, I'm just giving this person time until I discover how antisemitic they are. It was always a question of time. MANYA: His family's various displacements and scattered roots in Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, and now America, have led him to question his identity and what he calls home. ANDRÉ: I live with this sense of: I don't know where I belong. I don't know who I am. I don't know any of those things. What's my flag? I have no idea. Where's my home? I don't know. I live in New York. I've lived in New York for 50 years. Is it my home? Not really. But Egypt was never going to be my home. MANYA: André knew when he was leaving Egypt that he would one day write a book about the experience. He knew he should take notes, but never did. And like his father, he started a diary, but it was lost. He started another in 1969. After completing his dissertation, he began to write book reviews for Commentary, a monthly American magazine on religion, Judaism and politics founded and published, at the time, by American Jewish Committee. The editor suggested André write something personal, and that was the beginning of Out of Egypt. In fact, three chapters of his memoir, including The Last Seder, appeared in Commentary before it was published as a book in 1994. André returned to Egypt shortly after its release. But he has not been back since, even though his sons want to accompany him on a trip. ANDRÉ: They want to go back, because they want to go back with me. Question is, I don't want to put them in danger. You never know. You never know how people will react to . . . I mean, I'll go back as a writer who wrote about Egypt and was Jewish. And who knows what awaits me? Whether it will be friendly, will it be icy and chilly. Or will it be hostile? I don't know. And I don't want to put myself there. In other words, the view of the Jews has changed. It went to friendly, to enemy, to friendly, enemy, enemy, friendly, and so on, so forth. In other words, it is a fundamentally unreliable situation. MANYA: He also doesn't see the point. It's impossible to recapture the past. The pictures he sees don't look familiar and the people he used to know with affection have died. But he doesn't want the past to be forgotten. None of it. He wants the world to remember the vibrant Jewish life that existed in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as the vile hatred that drove all but a handful of Jews out of Egypt. Cornell Professor Deborah Starr says for the first time in many years, young Egyptians are asking tough questions about the Arabization of Egyptian society and how that affected Egyptian Jews. Perhaps, Israel and Zionism did not siphon Jewish communities from the Arab world as the story often goes. Perhaps instead, Israel offered a critical refuge for a persecuted community. DEBORAH: I think it's really important to tell the stories of Mizrahi Jews. I think that, particularly here we are speaking in English to an American audience, where the majority of Jews in North America are Ashkenazi, we have our own identity, we have our own stories. But there are also other stories that are really interesting to tell, and are part of the history of Jews in the 20th and 21st centuries. They're part of the Jewish experience. And so that's some of what has always motivated me in my research, and looking at the stories of coexistence among Jews and their neighbors in Egypt. MANYA: Professor Starr says the rise of Islamist forces like the Muslim Brotherhood has led Egyptians to harken back toward this period of tolerance and coexistence, evoking a sense of nostalgia. DEBORAH: The people are no longer living together. But it's worth remembering that past, it's worth reflecting on it in an honest way, and not, to look at the nostalgia and say: oh, look, these people are nostalgic about it, what is it that they're nostalgic for? What are some of the motivations for that nostalgia? How are they characterizing this experience? But also to look kind of critically on the past and understand, where things were working where things weren't and, and to tell the story in an honest way. MANYA: Though the communities are gone, there has been an effort to restore the evidence of Jewish life. Under Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt's president since 2014, there have been initiatives to restore and protect synagogues and cemeteries, including Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, Maimonides' original yeshiva in old Cairo, and Cairo's vast Jewish cemetery at Bassatine. But André is unmoved by this gesture. ANDRÉ: In fact, I got a call from the Egyptian ambassador to my house here, saying, ‘We're fixing the temples and the synagogues, and we want you back.' ‘Oh, that's very nice. First of all,' I told him, ‘fixing the synagogues doesn't do anything for me because I'm not a religious Jew. And second of all, I would be more than willing to come back to Egypt, when you give me my money back.' He never called me again. MANYA: Anytime the conversation about reparations comes up, it is overshadowed by the demand for reparations for Palestinians displaced by the creation of Israel, even though their leaders have rejected all offers for a Palestinian state. André wishes the Arab countries that have attacked Israel time and again would invest that money in the welfare of Palestinian refugees, help them start new lives, and to thrive instead of using them as pawns in a futile battle. He will always be grateful to HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, for helping his family escape, resettle, and rebuild their lives. ANDRÉ: We've made new lives for ourselves. We've moved on, and I think this is what Jews do all the time, all the time. They arrive or they're displaced, kicked out, they refashion themselves. Anytime I can help a Jew I will. Because they've helped me, because it's the right thing to do for a Jew. If a Jew does not help another Jew, what kind of a Jew are you? I mean, you could be a nonreligious Jew as I am, but I am still Jewish. And I realize that we are a people that has historically suffered a great deal, because we were oppressed forever, and we might be oppressed again. Who knows, ok? But we help each other, and I don't want to break that chain. MANYA: Egyptian Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left Arab countries to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Join us next week as we share another untold story of The Forgotten Exodus. Many thanks to André for sharing his story. You can read more in his memoir Out of Egypt and eventually in the sequel which he's working on now about his family's life in Italy after they left Egypt and before they came to America. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they had never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories. Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions alive and memories alive as well. Call 212.891-1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to email@example.com and we'll be in touch. Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name really, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can follow The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can sign up to receive updates at AJC.org/forgottenexodussignup. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you've enjoyed this episode, please be sure to spread the word, and hop onto Apple Podcasts to rate us and write a review to help more listeners find us.
Once home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities, some 50,000 Yemeni Jews, or Teimanim, left their homes between 1949-50 as part of Operation Magic Carpet. They walked for months to reach Alaskan Airlines planes “filled like sardines” that chartered them to safety in the then-young Jewish nation. How did this incredible story unfold and what were the political, social, and economic forces that drove them to leave? In the #1 Jewish podcast in the U.S, the history and personal stories of Yemenite Jews are uncovered and told. Hear from windsurfer Shahar Tzubari, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, about how his grandparents left behind their life as dairy farmers in Ta'iz, Yemen, to come to Israel, and Ari Ariel, a Middle East historian at the University of Iowa, who delves into what the 2,600-year-old community was like and the dramatic transitions that led to the mass exodus. ___ Show notes: Sign up to receive podcast updates here. Learn more about the series here. Video credits: Sailing - Men's RS:X Windsurfing - Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games Shahar Tzuberi Wins Israel's First Olympic Medal Of 2008 Beijing Olympics Song credits: "Emet El Shmeha", by Shoshana Demari "Hatikvah" “Muhabet” by Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road Pond5: “Desert Caravans”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Tiemur Zarobov (BMI), IPI#1098108837 “Sentimental Oud Middle Eastern”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI), Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989. “Adventures in the East”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI) Composer: Petar Milinkovic (BMI), IPI#00738313833. “Modern Middle Eastern Underscore”: Publisher: All Pro Audio LLC (611803484); Composer: Alan T Fagan (347654928) “Middle Eastern Arabic Oud”: Publisher: Pond5 Publishing Beta (BMI); Composer: Sotirios Bakas (BMI), IPI#797324989 Photo credit: GPO/Zoltan Kluger ____ Episode Transcript: BENNY GAMLIELI/ZE'EV TZUBARI: During thousands of years, the Jewish people used to dream, that the Messiah would come, to go to Israel, to go to the Holy Land, to see the city of Jerusalem. It was a dream during thousands of years. MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN: The world has overlooked an important episode in modern history: the 800,000 Jews who left, or were driven from their homes in Arab nations and Iran in the mid-20th century. This series, brought to you by American Jewish Committee, explores that pivotal moment in Jewish history and the rich Jewish heritage of Iran and Arab nations, as some begin to build relations with Israel. I'm your host, Manya Brachear Pashman. Join us as we explore family histories and personal stories of courage, perseverance, and resilience. This is The Forgotten Exodus. Today's episode: Leaving Yemen. [Video clip of Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics Windsurfing RS:X event] MANYA: That is the sound of Israeli Windsurfer Shahar Tzubari in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, coming up from behind to earn the bronze medal. At the same time, he was electrifying his country by winning Israel's only medal in those Olympic Games, he was also fulfilling his mandatory military service to help defend the Jewish state. Two generations before him also served in the Israeli military, including his grandfather who fought to defend Israel against attacks from its Arab neighbors just days after shepherding his family on foot across Yemen to board a plane and make the new Jewish state their new home. SHAHAR TZUBARI: I just know about the past, of my parents and my grandparents. And I know, they fought for this country. And they fought for independence. And for me, I'm here, and I represent basically what they fought for. MANYA: Shahar, who now coaches Israel's women's windsurfing team, is a second-generation Israeli whose grandparents and generations before them lived in Yemen. Their journey to the Jewish state resembles that of tens of thousands of Yemeni Jews, who came to Israel from Yemen between 1948 and 1949 as part of a mass exodus commonly called Operation Magic Carpet. In fact, Yemeni Jews, or Teimanim, are believed to be one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world outside of Israel, existing there even before the destruction of the First Temple. Yemeni Jews spoke a particular dialect of Hebrew and maintained many original religious traditions and others shaped over the centuries by the influence of Maimonides and Kabbalah. Hundreds of Jewish settlements were scattered across Yemen, where Jews primarily served as silversmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, shoemakers, and tailors. But that population started to shift in the 19th Century, what historians call the “age of migration,” driven largely by economic shifts. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869, movement between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean suddenly became much easier. That was true not only for imported and exported goods, but transportation of people too. ARI ARIEL: Most of the time, the story is told starting with Magic Carpet, because that's the big migration. But it's really a much older story. MANYA: That's Ari Ariel, a Middle East historian at the University of Iowa who focuses on Jewish communities in the Arab world and Mizrahi communities, those who immigrated from Arab countries to Israel and elsewhere in the Diaspora. His own family left Yemen for Israel in the 1920s. Professor Ariel has spent the last decade trying to piece together that lineage and the history of Yemeni Jews. He notes that between 1872 and 1881, Ottomans retook parts of Yemen where they had previously ruled centuries before. They also ruled over Palestine. But that wasn't the only significant transition. In fact, just in the span of five decades leading up to 1922, monumental transitions unfolded. The Ottoman Empire fell apart. Yemen became independent, both Jewish and Arab national movements arose, and the British, who obtained a mandate over Palestine in 1922, expressed support for a Jewish national home – Israel. ARI: So, there are big economic changes. More and more imported goods start to enter Yemen, and Yemeni Jews, who are craftsmen, largely, and small-scale merchants, really can't compete. So, you have documents complaining about the price of imported shoes and other kinds of imported things. So, in 1911, the Zionist movement, for the first time sends an emissary to Yemen, because they want Yemeni Jews to move to Palestine. And here, there's also an economic factor. For the Jewish nation to redeem itself, Jews have to fulfill all economic roles. What that means is they really want Jewish farmers. So, they send a guy named Shmuel Yavnieli. He goes and he walks, he goes around to different villages. It's kind of an intrigue story. He goes from village to village trying to get Yemeni Jews to move. When he writes back to Jerusalem, he makes it pretty clear, the only Jews who he thinks he's going to be able to get to move to Palestine are the ones who aren't doing so well economically. And that if the Zionist movement agrees to pay for, say, their transportation or housing, or things of that nature, that they may move, and he is successful at doing that. From my perspective, as a historian, that's important, too, because from that point, pretty much most Yemeni Jews who leave Yemen are going to Palestine. That's not true initially. So in the earlier periods, you have lots of Yemeni Jews going to East Africa, to India, to Egypt, a small number to the U.S., actually. So you get these movements. But once it's directed by a state, or I guess, a state like structure, in the case of the Zionist movement, at this point, the flow becomes much clearer to Palestine. MANYA: The Tzubari family's initial departure from Yemen – aunts, uncles, cousins – is part of that larger story of migration. But Shahar's grandparents came amid the events of the mid-20th Century that sparked the most significant exodus. Within a three-month period, nearly 50,000 Yemeni Jews, including Shahar's grandparents and great grandparents, poured out of Yemen and made Israel their new home. This is their story as told to me by Shahar and his father Ze'ev Tzubari. Ze'ev Tzubari's parents were born in southwestern Yemen. For generations they had been dairy farmers. Before they left in 1949 through Operation Magic Carpet, they lived in Ta'iz, once known as the nation's cultural capital. ZE'EV AND BENNY, TRANSLATOR: [speaking Hebrew]: ZE'EV: In Yemen? BENNY: Yes, you remember what they did? ZE'EV: They had, what I remember, goats, cattle, they had cattle. BENNY: In Ta'iz? ZE'EV: In Ta'iz, there, we had cattle.] MANYA: Ze'ev spoke to me in Hebrew, and a family friend, Benny Gamlieli, translated. Here's Benny. BENNY: By the way, my parents as well came through this project by Alaska [Airlines] and brought, as I said, over 50,000-55,000 Jewish people from Yemen came through this project. You know this Aliyah, that we call the Magic Carpet. MANYA: Operation Magic Carpet was the nickname for a joint venture of the Israeli government, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency, to transport Jews from Yemen to Israel. Its official name was Operation Kanfei Nesharim, which, translated from Hebrew means “On the Wings of Eagles”, referring to the passage in Exodus: “how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to me…” BENNY: So during thousands of years, the Jewish people used to dream, that the Messiah will come, to go to Israel, to go to the Holy Land, to see the city of Jerusalem. It was a dream during thousands of years. MANYA: There are a number of theories about why the exodus from Yemen took place at this moment in time and the circumstances surrounding it. Ze'ev's translator, Benny, said Jews and Muslims lived side by side. But being Jewish wasn't easy. Since the seventh century, Jews in Yemen were considered second class, which varied in meaning from ruler to ruler. Since 1910, the imam of Yemen had an agreement with the Ottomans to take care of the Jews. But that did not prevent the Yemeni government from imposing heavy taxes or applying an even more troubling interpretation. Known as the Orphan's Decree, Yemen required any Jewish children under the age of 12 who lost a parent to be handed over to a Muslim family and convert to Islam – ostensibly for their protection. In 1924, the King of Yemen restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine. Then, in November 1947, after the Holocaust sent a wave of European Jewish immigrants seeking refuge in their biblical homeland, the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine and the creation of an independent Jewish state. Days later, rioters targeted Jewish homes and businesses in Aden. That pogrom killed an estimated 82 Jews. In 1948, the King of Yemen, the imam, opened the window for three months for Jews to leave under two conditions: leave everything behind, and teach the Yemeni Muslims your trades in order to maintain the economy. With only three months, Jews seized the opportunity. ARI: It's not entirely clear why he gives permission at that point. But there are different stories. One is that maybe a Yemeni Rabbi tells him a story about a dream, that this is kind of fate and that Yemeni Jews are supposed to . . . because the Imami its legitimacy is religious, and it understands these kinds of movements. So, the idea of a Messianic movement is kind of appealing to the Muslim side of this as well, in a sense. There's another story that he's paid. There's some sort of element of bribe because people are given money for the number of Jews that leave Yemen. MANYA: But that moment was also a time of political strife in Yemen that – as most times of political strife do – threatened the welfare of the Jewish community. After the riots in Aden, Jews already had good reason to worry. Then in 1948, the imam of Yemen, who had agreed to take care of the Jews, was assassinated. If Jews saw their fortunes aligned with the imam, now they had even more reason for concern. ARI: It's about a moment of political instability and about the changing nature of government and society in Yemen, which pushes some Jews to leave because they've been so aligned with the imam. MANYA: Jews came from hundreds of towns and villages throughout Yemen, some walking for weeks and months to reach Aden, where between June 1949 and September 1950 more than 380 flights took off for Tel Aviv. Those Kanfei Nesharim, eagles' wings, were provided by Alaska Airlines. BENNY: Alaska Airlines was the only company who agreed to do the journey. And you know what they did to absorb as much as they can in one plane? They took off all the seats and they filled them like sardines. MANYA: For the harrowing mission, the airline stationed flight and maintenance crews throughout the Middle East and outfitted newly acquired war-surplus twin-engine planes, with extra fuel tanks to guarantee a non-stop 3,000-mile flight. British officials warned pilots that if they had to stop along the way, those angry about the establishment of Israel, would surely kill the passengers and crew. To reassure the Yemeni passengers boarding the one-way flights from Aden to Tel Aviv, the airline painted the outstretched wings of an eagle above each airplane hatch. Planes were shot at, the airport in Tel Aviv was bombed. But miraculously, no lives were lost. BENNY: For three months it was a crazy situation. And the government cannot say, ‘Oh, we have no room for you.' That's why they built tents.” MANYA: Tents. A temporary tent city, or a ma'abara in Hebrew, was where Ze'ev's parents and grandparents lived when they first arrived in Israel. ZE'EV: [in Hebrew: Five meters by five meters, that in each corner of the tent was a family. Here's a family, here's a family, here's a family . . .] BENNY: Five meters by five meters one square. And in each tent, four different families, each corner of the tent was settled by a family. MANYA: Ze'ev's family shared a tent with other families from Yemen. That wasn't always the case. Sometimes each corner would be occupied by families from four different countries. Another tent could have Olim Chadashim, the Hebrew term for new immigrants, from Romania, Iraq, Yemen, and Egypt. BENNY: Impossible to describe that terrible situation, that years, the beginning of the State of Israel, of course, until the government, you know, start to build, to establish cities and to try to absorb as much as they can, Olim Chadashim, you know, Jewish from all over the world. MANYA: In 1952, Ze'ev was born in one of those 5-meter-by-5-meter tents. But his father Natan did not know right away that Ze'ev had been born. He was already fighting for the Israeli army's Golani Brigade, the troops that defended the Jewish state from the Arab nations that attacked Israel as soon as it declared independence. ZE'EV: My father was in the army. Yeah. He didn't know that I was born. BENNY: He knew it later because he was busy in the army in one of the missions, one of his job, whatever, as a young fighter, so it took it took a few weeks, (ZE'EV: a few weeks) to find his father to let him know that ‘You're lucky because the boy was born . . . now you have a son.' That was the beginning of the war. It's funny to say the beginning and the end – no beginning and no end. War, all the time. The minute when the Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared about this young state of Israel, declared our independent country, at the same time – booming and shooting from the four different countries, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, attacked Israel. So we have 10 months of fighting, 24 hours a day. So his father Natan, he went to the army and by the way, in the army, he didn't get money, let me tell you, but you know what, he got? Uniform and food. That's enough, I can survive. You know, you know what I mean? As long as they feed him, and bring him some uniform, clothes, thank God, everything is okay. Every second, day was, you know, problems, shooting, whatever along the border. So, we have to protect the young country that starts to build itself. MANYA: Natan returned after the birth of his son. The government moved the families to cabins where Ze'ev's sister was born, and eventually to an apartment where his younger brother was born and raised. Natan connected with an older brother who had come a decade earlier and found work building roads and planting trees – literally laying the foundation for and cultivating the nation of Israel. ZE'EV: Ok, so after that we [in Hebrew: . . . good, let's speak in Hebrew. We studied at the schools, and my mother would always say ‘I work like a donkey for you, only so you should learn and exceed your parents.' She used to work for an Ashkenazi family, they owned a pharmacy . . . Yes.] MANYA: His mother found a job working as a nanny for the family of an Ashkenazi pharmacist. BENNY: She found, his mother, the way they treat the children, how much they spend, because they have money. And it's mainly for education, mainly for studies. Because of the study. She said, ‘I'll do my best for my children as well.' MANYA: While progress has been made in closing the education and income gap between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim in Israel, it was difficult from the start. At that time, many Ashkenazim, Jews from Europe, had more financial resources and they were well-educated. Meanwhile, Mizrahim, including Jews from Yemen, left everything behind and did not have the same level of education. But Ze'ev's mother saw no reason why her family could not follow the same path as the Ashkenazi family for whom she worked. She and Natan set out to forge a bright future for their children. BENNY: And she said, she talked to her children. And she said ‘Listen guys, we are poor people. But I work 24 hours a day just because of one reason. I want you to study. I want you to be well-educated. I'll do my best. I sacrificed my life for you, for the three of you, and your father as well.' So, their parents work, as I said, so hard to earn money to promise them a good education. And she found, because she learned from the Ashkenazi family, she said, why not to do the same for my children and that's why he describes the very hard difficult situation at that time, that how many hours a day they miss their mother because she was out working trying to get more money to promise them a good education in Tel Aviv at that time. MANYA: Ze'ev understood and appreciated what his mother and father provided and did what they asked of him. He studied and took care of his brother and sister while his parents worked. At the age of 16, he entered a special military academy in Haifa, then, like his father Natan, served his time in the Israeli Defense Forces. When he got out, he found a job working for a utility company on the Sinai Peninsula, which at that time, prior to the Israeli Egyptian peace treaty, was under Israeli control. BENNY: The peninsula of Sinai, it's a huge area, it's a desert, but with a beautiful golden seashore from Eilat to Sharm El Sheikh. 250 kilometers, which is like, 150-60 miles length to the south, and the southern city of that peninsula, called Sharm El Sheikh. And a lot of young people went there, mixed with the Bedouins, to find a job and he earned a lot of money because as long as you work far away from the center, from the country, you have a chance to earn much more. So let's say, a double salary a month. Gave him a chance to help his family in southern Tel Aviv and the old place that he used to live, his parents. MANYA: But in addition to earning money to send back to his family, Ze'ev also took advantage of that beautiful golden seashore and took up a hobby – windsurfing. He married an Ashkenazi woman, the daughter of a German businessman who left Germany before the Holocaust. Instead of returning to the HaTikva neighborhood, what was then a high crime area in Tel Aviv, Ze'ev and his wife moved to Eilat and when he became a father, Ze'ev took Shahar and his sister Tal to the shore of the Red Sea every day in hopes they too would fall in love with the ocean. And they did. SHAHAR: I started windsurfing as well at the age of 6-7. Basically, she was windsurfing for fun as I was windsurfing for fun. And when I got to the age where I had to decide, I decided to go for a special athlete program in the army, because I was good. And I wanted to go to the Olympics, and I wanted to continue with the sport. MANYA: Because Shahar grew up in Eilat, away from where his father's family remained, his exposure to Yemeni customs and culture was limited. SHAHAR: So I kind of knew the roots of my father. And every time we went there, we went to the market, and I saw my cousins, and they were going to the synagogue with my grandparents. And we did the kiddush, and eating Yemeni food and connecting more to the roots of the Yemen side of my family, and hearing the stories and sharing the stories. But in a way, I was a bit disconnected, because I was living in Eilat. So, like, less connected to the Yemen side, but my family name Tzubari and the roots. Also my appearance, it's more Yemeni. So when I became more known, the connection with the Yemen side became stronger and stronger. MANYA: Shahar lost his grandparents this past year. But before they passed away, he made a point to listen to their stories. SHAHAR: We tried to observe many of the history and their story about coming to Israel. And it's fascinating that when they were young, at the age of 10, or 12, they walked so many miles to come here, because they had hope. They didn't know what to expect, but they had hope. That they come here, and everything will be better. MANYA: He appreciates how far the family has come since his grandparents and great-grandparents arrived in Israel and lived in that 5-meter by 5-meter tent. SHAHAR: Basically, it's a funny story. Because where my father was born and raised, or where my grandparents first lived when they came to Israel, now it's the most expensive place in Tel Aviv. And the parents of my wife are living in this neighborhood, in the penthouse. MANYA: Shahar also recognizes the role he plays in his family's and nation's progress, and how intertwined the history of his family is with the future of the Jewish nation. He realizes now that protecting Israel, defending the Jewish state, is part of growing up Israeli. It's not the diversion he once resented. SHAHAR: So when I was young, I felt like it's kind of stalking me. But now I'm older, and I have athletes, which are also soldiers, because now I'm a coach, and I see all the positive things, because sometimes athletes think that they are the center of the world. And it's not so true because they are living in a system, doesn't matter which system it is– it's the Federation, it's the Olympic committee. You always have a boss, and you're always in a system. And I think that the journey that I pass in the IDF, it's a good journey to build yourself and realizing and taking everything out there . . . and realizing that, okay, I might be the best athlete in the world, but I still have responsibilities. So it gave me a lot of tools and abilities for life. MANYA: In March 2021, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels deported the last three Jewish families living in Yemen, marking the end of that country's 2,600-year-old Jewish community within its borders. I asked Shahar if he would ever want to go to Yemen to trace his family's footsteps, once it's safe for Jews and Israelis. SHAHAR: For me, it's a pity that, of course, this is life and politics, but I can't go there because I'm an Israeli, and I have an Israeli passport. And if I had another passport, I could go … Yeah, it's a shame. I have this thing that I really want to visit all the Arab countries, not only Yemen, because as an Israeli, learning about the conflict . . . in the end, I think that all the Arab nations, we are very similar. And we are neighbors, and you know, as neighbors, we have the same temperament. And we share many of the values of the family, and being together. For me, I think being able to visit those places, it's a dream come true. MANYA: Just as military service and family history have shaped Shahar, windsurfing has given him perspective too. The waters of Eilat can be soothing, serene, utterly breathtaking. But storms churn up fierce waves for which the strongest surfer is no match. And that's when Shahar really likes to be on the water. A fearless determination that goes back generations. [Video clip from after the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics Windsurfing RS:X event] Moments after he sailed across the finish line in Beijing and claimed that bronze medal, Shahar plunged into the water. A reporter shoved a cell phone into his hand to film Shahar sharing the victory with his family back in Israel. Nearly 60 years later, another leg of the journey from Ta'iz was complete, another dream fulfilled. SHAHAR: If you think about it … just to, one day, to wake up, take all your belongings and move. It's a brave act. In hard times, or not even in hard times, just sometimes when I do represent my country as an athlete, so I think about those moments, and it makes me feel pride that my grandparents or my family look at me and say ‘OK, it was worth it.' MANYA: Yemeni Jews are just one of the many Jewish communities who in the last century left Arab countries to forge new lives for themselves and future generations. Join us next week as we share another untold story of The Forgotten Exodus. Does your family have roots in North Africa or the Middle East? One of the goals of this series is to make sure we gather these stories before they are lost. Too many times during my reporting, I encountered children and grandchildren who didn't have the answers to my questions because they had never asked. That's why one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to find more of these stories. Call The Forgotten Exodus hotline. Tell us where your family is from and something you'd like for our listeners to know such as how you've tried to keep the traditions and memories alive. Call 212.891-1336 and leave a message of 2 minutes or less. Be sure to leave your name and where you live now. You can also send an email to email@example.com and we'll be in touch. Many thanks to Shahar and his father Ze'ev for sharing their family's story. And thank you to Benny Gamlieli for translating Ze'ev from Hebrew. Atara Lakritz is our producer, CucHuong Do is our production manager. T.K. Broderick is our sound engineer. Special thanks to Jon Schweitzer, Sean Savage, Ian Kaplan, and so many of our colleagues, too many to name really, for making this series possible. And extra special thanks to David Harris, who has been a constant champion for making sure these stories do not remain untold. You can subscribe to The Forgotten Exodus on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and you can learn more at AJC.org/theforgottenexodus. The views and opinions of our guests don't necessarily reflect the positions of AJC. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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