What does ‘Jewish culture’ mean to you? Klezmer music? Smoked salmon bagels? Yiddish sayings? Hasidim in black hats?

These images tell only part of the Jewish story. The darbouka and the oud are as Jewish as klezmer, t’beet and dafina as Jewish as gefilte fish and chopped liver. Maimonides wore a turban, not a black hat. For thousands of years Judeo-Arabic was the language spoken by the Mizrahim, the Jews of the East. Theirs was a Judeo-Arabic culture. Their world was as colourful and vibrant as the Harif pickle is hot and fiery.

Few in the West are aware that Jews were an integral part of the Middle East before Israel was created. Few know that important Jewish communities, which produced the Babylonian Talmud, great doctors, writers and poets, even existed in the ‘Arab’ world. Few realise that over 2,000 years of history in the Middle East and North Africa came to an abrupt and tragic end just 50 years ago. Few are aware of the enormous cultural and economic void which they left behind.

In another twenty years, few Jews who were born in these countries will still be alive. A vital chapter of Jewish identity, history and culture will be lost. Time is running out. That is why it was decided to set up HARIF, an association representing Jews from North Africa and the Middle East dedicated to promoting their history, culture and heritage. And this November HARIF will be holding a Jews from Arab Countries Week, from 13th to 20th November. It will be doing something that has never been tried before: to bring a touch of the Mizrahi experience to London.

Click on the links to read about the events and make a booking.


For Facebook updates, background information and reports on past Harif events, click here