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2015 Exhibition: The Jews of North Africa

Will the exhibition of the Jews of North Africa fly to Israel?

For its presentation, the Judeo-Alsatian Museum received information and documents from the World Center for North African Jews in Jerusalem.

The contacts had been maintained, in September 2015, Gilbert Weil had wanted to show his friendly interlocutors the result of this collaboration by a virtual visit.

The reaction was immediate “We want this exhibition! ". Obviously, the Judeo-Alsatian Museum could only accept.

After intense work to carry out a feasibility study, a meeting was organized in Jerusalem at the end of 2015.

One year after the success of the exhibitions devoted to the Life and Traditions of the Jews of North Africa (2014), au  Grand Livre d'Histoire des Juifs du Maghreb _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_(2014) and at La Noce des Juifs du Soleil (2012), the Judeo-Alsatian Museum offered to rediscover the 3000 years of history, life in all its aspects and the range of very rich traditions of the Jews of North Africa at a Great Expo!! 

But this time, three essential themes have been added: the old synagogues of the cities but especially those "in the ground" of southern Morocco; the rich artistic and intellectual life of the Jews of North Africa; and the cemeteries in their grandiose sites with tombs engraved with symbols.

The ambition was to evoke, ultimately, all the facets of a history and a culture.

During the inauguration of the exhibition, the Judeo-Alsatian Museum had the pleasure of welcoming the representative of the Sephardic Community of Strasbourg, to whom Gilbert Weil, President of the museum, declared: "Why this major exhibition in the Judeo-Alsatian Museum? ".

Two reasons stand out according to Gilbert Weil. The first concerns the future Judaism of Alsace which, according to demographic curves, shows that it will be “from North Africa”. But for the present, “the Judeo-Alsatian Museum wants Jewish children to find here, and in images, their roots, in order to be able to build their personality from this past. »

On March 15, 2015 at the Judeo-Alsatian Museum was inaugurated the very beautiful exhibition on the black Jews of Abyssinia.


Through photos and unusual objects, this exhibition has made it possible to bring visitors closer to an unknown population living in northern Ethiopia: the Beta Israel, more commonly called the Falashas (vagabonds) by the "Others, a people for whom the freedom has never had a price! 




Produced with the collaboration and support of the VALISKE Association , an association which has been active for 12 years in Alsace and which organizes trips to discover Jewish heritage, history and culture around the world, the exhibition celebrates the 30th anniversary of Operation Moses.

Fascinated for a long time by the cultural richness of Ethiopia, VALISKE offers tours on the Jewish presence in the northern part of the country, in Abyssinia, and on the Jewish roots of Ethiopian Christianity.


According to its president Régine Waksman "it is another way to discover this country of exceptional beauty and to meet its many peoples because the light of Jerusalem shines beyond Sinai and brightens the high plateaus of Simien. We invite you to leave with us following the photographs taken by the members of our Association during our stays in the country of the Queen of Sheba."

To introduce this exhibition, the Judeo-Alsatian Museum had chosen to broadcast the film franco-israélien  "Go, Live and Become" by Radu Mihaileanu.


In this magnificent film, released in 2005 and awarded the same year for Best Film at the Copenhagen International Film Festival, its director recounts the rescue of the Jews of Ethiopia.


Synopsis : In 1984, an American-Israeli mission, Operation Moses, transported many Jews from Ethiopia (often called Falashas), refugees in Sudan, to bring them to Israel.

In an Ethiopian refugee camp, a mother,  Christian,   pushes her son to pretend to be Jewish in order to survive, and forces him to _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

    sort of lying all his life. Neither Jewish nor an orphan, he is integrated into an Israeli family with this double malaise experienced, that on the one hand, of his mother who he misses, and on the other hand, of the roots he has lost.


And today, what traces of the Jews in Africa ?

Repulsed by the Muslim conquest and the anti-Judaism of many Christian kings, the Ethiopian Jews always preferred freedom in the austere mountain plateaus of Simien to the submission they risked by living in fertile and rich valleys.

"Rather freedom and dignity in poverty and exclusion than submission."

It was  thus in the 19th century, when all of Africa fell into economic dependence while Abyssinia remained the only free land on the black continent. And when the hard times arrived,  period during which the Ethiopian Jews were transformed into barya (slaves), the latter  knew how to safeguard freedom of conscience and belonging to the people of Israel.

2015 exhibition:
The Friendship Bridge in Quba - the art of living together in Azerbaijan

Thanks to the links forged with the VALISKE Association , an association offering cultural trips around the world, the idea of an “exhibition-meeting” with the dignitaries of the five main religions of Azerbaijan sprang up and was able to be proposed to the Jewish Museum. Alsatian in 2015.


Its theme was: exemplary religious coexistence, making the pride of this country.


The delegation of a dozen people, including a vice-minister, a scholar presiding over the destinies of the community – largely in the minority – of Muslims, an archbishop recognizable by his tiara, etc., had left Azerbaijan that very morning to come cut the ribbon for the opening of the exhibition, on Sunday 06 September 2015.

Opening of the exhibition with the ribbon cutting ceremony

Visitors were thus able to discover, among other things, the heavy domed architecture of ancient synagogues, contrasting with the elegance of recent places of worship, all marrying their silhouettes to minarets.


In addition, this exhibition was produced as part of the European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage.

Related to the exhibition:


As part of this exhibition, the Judeo-Alsatian Museum had the pleasure of welcoming Régis Bello , author of the "Dictionary of the Silk Road" , for an afternoon .

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