The bravery and sacrifice of Middle Eastern women did not stop during the days of the Maccabees but continue on. In 1950, my maternal grandmother, Rina Taib fled antisemitic persecution in Libya to Israel with my grandfather, two kids, and two suitcases. Initially, they lived in the ma’abarot (refugee absorption camps established in Israel in the 1950s); life in the ma’abarot wasn’t easy, and my grandma even gave birth to her third child in one of these refugee camps. The family stayed there for eight years before moving to an apartment in Bnei Brak. In 1964, my paternal Safta Alusha Hadad left Tunisia for Israel on a small boat with my saba (grandfather) and their six children to pursue the Zionist dream and return to Erez Israel.
Chag Ha Banot, not only honors Yehudit, but the subsequent generations of strong Jewish women, like my grandmothers, and the vital role women play in protecting Judaism and our ancestral homeland. These stories of brave Jewish women continue to resonate deeply with me as a woman, an Israeli, a recent immigrant to the U.S., a descendant of Jews from North Africa, and as a Jewish communal professional committed to advancing the heritage and rights of Sephardic and Mizrahi women and the Jewish people on a daily basis.
Today, on Hag Ha Banot, I hope you will join me in celebrating and honoring the contributions of brave Jewish women, like Judith, my grandmothers, and your grandmothers. As an organization founded and led by strong Sephardic and Mizrahi women, I welcome you to participate in JIMENA’s fight for the dignity, heritage and rights of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. Your support will enable JIMENA to continue supporting Sephardic Jewish women through leadership development programs, research, professional development opportunities, trainings for Jewish Day Schools and mainstream Jewish organizations, and community building programs that bring together diverse Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews to join together in celebration of our heritage. Please consider making a year-end, tax-deductible Hanukkah gift to JIMENA today.
Sr. Program Director, JIMENA