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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.

Selections From Our Collection of Sephardic Artifacts

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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. It was discovered by Sharon Pucker Rivo, director of the National Center for Jewish Film (Waltham, Massachusetts), during a visit to Barcelona to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain. —National Center for Jewish Film, at Brandeis University

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.

Contact Us

If you have artifacts you would like to donate or want to discuss this collecting effort with a Museum curator, please e-mail or call 202.488.2649.