Jews have lived in the Islamic world since ancient times. The Mizrahi (Oriental) Jews spread across the region after the destruction of the First Temple in the 6th century BCE. When the Sephardi Jews of Spain and Portugal were expelled in the late 15th century, many were welcomed by the former Ottoman Empire. They joined and established thriving communities in cities like Aleppo, Cairo, and Baghdad, which produced some of the greatest scholars and personalities of the Jewish world and contributed significantly to the cultural and economic development of those countries.
The rise of nationalist movements, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and broader global politics threatened the situation of Jews in Islamic countries. Most were dispossessed and expelled, some left to escape a worsening political and economic climate. Jewish communities in the Arab and Muslim world massively reduced in number, some have today totally disappeared.
"The Jews from Arab Lands have become part of many different nations and cultures… Their stories need not just to be told, but to be recorded and available. Sephardi Voices can help all those who are going to write or teach Jewish history to have a superb source of something which should be as widely known as possible"
– Sir Martin Gilbert z”L, SVUK interview
The work of SVUK enables families and communities to connect with their past and celebrate their heritage and researchers and the general public to have a unique window into the lives of Jewish communities which no longer exist from countries such as Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and Algeria.
Please support our urgent work and help Sephardi Voices UK to preserve the precious Sephardi and Mizrahi heritage and transform Jewish memory and historiography.
Sephardi Voices UK is part of the international Sephardi Voices project dedicated to preserving and capturing the memories of Jews form the Middle East, North Africa and Iran who left their homes, focusing on those who settled in the UK.
SVUK’s mission is to document stories of childhood, displacement, migration, exile, and resettlement and to bring to life the vibrant Jewish communities left behind, the journeys of migration and the rich culture and tradition of Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews.
Message from our Chairman
I have personally lived in four countries since leaving Egypt after the Suez crisis, and regrettably only became interested in that heritage when it was too late to interrogate my parents.
Sephardi Voices UK has already completed dozens of video interviews, which are deposited in the British Library for open access, subject to any restriction imposed by the interviewee. With memories fading and the elders leaving us, it is essential that these personal recollections of religious traditions, lifestyle, relationships, exile, resettlement and identity are preserved for research, education and future generations.
Thank you for visiting us, feel free to explore part of our archive, and please help us achieve our goal!
Alec Nacamuli, May 2017