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Passport to Jewish History
Center for Jewish History
New York, NY
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Passport to Jewish History
Join Diarna researchers for a three-part passport series each exploring Jewish historical sites and stories:

19 July - A Pilgrimage to Morocco's Jewish Saints

25 July -  Expedition to Egypt: Results of a Recent Research Trip (featuring Diarna's lead photographer, Josh Shamsi)

8 August - Beyond Tunis: A Comprehensive Mission to Tunisia (featuring Diarna photographer Chrystie Sherman)

Over a million Jews once lived in the Middle East and North Africa, spanning from synagogues on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco to abandoned Jewish fortresses in Saudi Arabia and the traditional shrines of Biblical personalities in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Iran. The profound Jewish imprint on the region could be experienced in major cities and diffuse villages.

Now, decades since communities have disbanded, synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other structures left behind are suffering from natural decay or being deliberately targeted for destruction, while political strife has stymied visiting, no less preserving, thousands of sites. In recent years the Iranian regime has threatened to destroy the purported shrine of Esther and Mordechai at Hamadan; the storied Eliyahu HaNabi Synagogue in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus was reduced to rubble (a consequence of being caught in the crossfire of the Syrian Civil War); and ISIS exploded the traditional tomb of Jonah, which had been located within one of Mosuls oldest mosques.

Diarna: The Geo-Museum of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Life--an independent initiative of Digital Heritage Mapping, a spacial humanities non-profit organization--is working to digitally preserve the physical remnants of Jewish history throughout the region. We are in a race against time to capture site data and record place-based oral histories. Diarna pioneers the synthesis of digital mapping technology, traditional scholarship, and field research, as well as a trove of multimedia documentation. All of these combine to lend a virtual presence and guarantee untrammeled access to Jewish historical sites lest they be forgotten or erased.

Location: Diarna "Situation Room" at ASF - The Center for Jewish History.


Center for Jewish History (View)
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
United States


Education > Tours

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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