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Before It’s Too Late

Machla Abramovitz

Close to a million Jews fled their native Arab lands after 1948, leaving behind not only billions of dollars worth of confiscated wealth, but also thriving communities that had existed for centuries. But as memories fade and people pass on, who will be left to remember? Professor Henry Green is traveling the world in his race against time to record this forgotten exodus for future generations.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

There aren’t too many people who can compete withProfessorHenryGreen for the number of heartbreaking stories he’s heard over the past decade — stories of Jews expelled from their homes, of ancient traditions being lost to the next generation, of thriving communities looted and exiled. Close to a million Jews from Arab and Mediterranean lands, from Baghdad to Aleppo to Cairo to Casablanca, whose rich Jewish traditions go back many centuries, faced growing discrimination and brutality beginning in the 1940s, when violence and expulsion put an end to once-thriving communities and a rich heritage that went back hundreds, or even thousands, of years. But a majority of those displaced Sephardic Jews are no longer alive, and of the ones who are, many are no longer physically or mentally capable of sharing the personal testimonies of their early lives and the trauma of exile they faced. As memories fade and people pass on,ProfessorGreen is more desperate than ever to record the witnesses to this “forgotten exodus” in his own race against time to capture and document the lives of a Jewish populace on the verge of disappearing. Yet why is a Canadian-born, Ashkenazic-rooted sociologist and Judaic studies professor at the University of Miami so driven to preserve these testimonies, to the point where he created Sephardi Voices, a collection of digitally recorded audiovisual histories of hundreds of Sephardic emigrants? What has motivatedDr.Green to travel the world seeking out their stories before it’s too late?

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