Sephardic Communities and the Holocaust
What can a wedding photo tell us about the struggle to survive of the centuries-old Sephardic culture? Or a private letter, about the ordeal faced by one Sephardic community at a turning point in history? Or a simple dress, about a Sephardic mother’s will for rebirth?
These artifacts and others like them—the personal belongings of victims and survivors—help us understand the events of the Holocaust and the ongoing relevance of this history today.
A Race Against Time
Right now the Museum is in a race against time to collect and preserve original artifacts from Sephardic Jews (or their descendants) who suffered displacement, persecution, or discrimination under the rule of Nazi Germany and its Axis partners between 1938 and 1945. This includes materials relating to life in the immediate postwar era and emigration. We are also seeking artifacts and testimony from other eyewitnesses to these events.
If you have artifacts you would like to donate or want to discuss this collecting effort with a Museum curator, please e-mail email@example.com or call 202.488.2649.
Selections from Our Collection of Sephardic Artifacts
Popular orchestras featuring the mandolin, like this one in Rhodes, were prevalent throughout the Balkans during the early twentieth century.
Jews of the Spanish Homeland
This 1929 documentary film titled “Jews of the Spanish Homeland” contains close-ups of the leading Balkan Sephardi rabbis of the time and rare footage of Jewish schools, residential quarters, synagogues, and cemeteries as well as a sampling of Sephardi religious customs.
Born April 29, 1927, Athens, Greece
Isaac Nehama describes his mother’s traditional cooking [2003 interview]
Performed by Dr. Avram Sadikario, Skopje, 1993
Recorded by Susana Weich-Shahak
Lyrics translated from Ladino by Isaac Nehama
Source S. Weich-Shahak collection in the National Sound Archives at the National Jewish and University Library in Jerusalem
- Quen pensa de se enamorar (Whoever thinks of falling in love)
- Arboles lloran por luvia (Trees cry for rain)
- Buenos días, molinero (Good morning, miller!)
In 1943, Victoria Sarfati and Yehuda Beraha hastily arranged their wedding in German-occupied Salonika to enable them to stay together during the uncertain times that lay ahead.
On March 11, 1943, within a few days of the departure of the first deportation trains from Salonika, the 3,276 Sephardi Jews of the Macedonian city of Bitola (Monastir) were rounded up by Bulgarian occupation authorities.
Norbert Yasharoff's Letter
This letter, which is one of the very few eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust in Bulgaria, was long assumed by its writer to have been lost.
Performed by Miriam Baruch, 1943
Recorded by Fidel Baruch
Flory (Floritza) Jagoda
Born 1923, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
Flory Jagoda describes anti-Jewish measures following the occupation of Zagreb.
Dora and Sarina Levy
Dora Levy and her mother Sarina thought their ordeal was over when they were liberated by the British army in October 1944.