Message from our Executive Director
Our mission at Sephardi Voices UK 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 and Mizrachi Jews.
The work of Sephardi Voices UK enables families and communities to connect with their past and celebrate their heritage, and for 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, Libya, Morocco, and Algeria.
In the last two decades there has been a huge increase in the number of testimony, or oral history, projects which have put individuals’ experiences into the wider public realm and have thus re-defined our understanding of major historical events in the twentieth century.
None of these projects have dealt with the experiences of the Jews from North Africa, the Middle East, and Iran, who left their homes and settled in the UK. It is of the highest priority to preserve the memories of the elder generation of Mizrachi Jews in order to add their voices to the historiography of British Jews and to the historiography of immigration to Britain. By recording the stories of the Mizrachi Jews, the memories of individuals who grew up in communities which often no longer exist, will be passed on to the next generations and create a sense of pride and continuity.
Sephardi Voices UK will thus cater to the urgent need for more understanding and knowledge of the experiences of Jews from North Africa, the Middle East, and Iran in the twentieth century while simultaneously adding value to a sense of history within Jewish communities and within individual families.
Please support our urgent work and help Sephardi Voices UK to preserve the precious Sephardi and Mizrahi heritage and transform Jewish memory and historiography. Thank you!
– Dr Bea Lewkowicz, Executive Director
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
Sephardi Voices began interviewing in 2009, and was a registered charity in 2010.
At its conception, the Trustees, all of whom come from the Middle East, North Africa or Iran, chose to name the organisation Sephardi Voices, as this was the terminology used by the vast majority of our interviewees. Whilst this popular terminology has changed, and Jews from these communities are now more commonly referred to as Mizrachi, we have retained our original name.
Since 2010 we have navigated changes to the technology that we both record and share our archive on and are continually adapting to our changing world.
We have carried out over one hundred interviews to date and are grateful to each and every one of our interviewees for sharing their stories with us.