The Untold Story of the Sephardic Communities and the Holocaust
When it comes to the Holocaust, most people assume that Hitler’s fiendish plan to exterminate all Jews affected the Ashkenazic Jews exclusively. Many accounts of the mass murders that occurred in Ashkenazic countries during the Holocaust seem to indicate that the victims were all Ashkenazic Jews.
However, contrary to this belief, the Sephardic Jews — in particular the Jews of Greece suffered a great deal under the Nazi yoke. The North African countries such as, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, suffered from the fascist Italian rule, the Vichy France and for a short while from the German rule. During the Wannsee Conference in 1942, the Jews of North Africa were included in the number of all European Jews that the Nazis planned to annihilate. Moreover, Sephardic Jews residing throughout Europe suffered greatly from the Nazis’ persecution.
Unfortunately, much of the information about the spiritual courage and bravery of Sephardic Jews during World War II is unknown to the general public, and even to their own community. We believe that the time has come to share the experience of the Sephardic Jews with the younger generation in both the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic communities and to honor the memory of those Jews who died al Kiddush Hashem. Project Witness would like to disseminate the stories of spiritual heroism that have emerged from the Sephardic communities.
The first major Project Witness event to deal with the topic of the fate of Sephardic Jewry will take place at the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue on March 13th at 7:30 PM. Opening remarks will be delivered by Rabbi Elie Abadie, MD, Rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue. Prof. Steven Bowman, professor at the University of Cincinnati;will speak about the role of leadership during this period, Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, director of Project Witness; will discuss the Spiritual Heroism and Prof. Asher J. Matathias, professor at St. John’s University, will share his personal story.
Project Witness is a Holocaust Resource Center dedicated to transmitting to future generations the history and the spiritual courage of the six million Jews caught in the Nazi trap during the Holocaust years. Through a variety of educational and community initiatives, Project Witness is ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust and its implications for Jews worldwide will never fade into the mists of history. You can contact Project Witness at 718-WITNESS (948-6377), email@example.com, or on the web at projectwitness.org.