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January 31, 2022 9:39 am
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New Survey Reveals Israel’s Mizrachim Jewish Majority Overlooked by School Textbooks

avatar by Judy Lash Balint / JNS.org

A teacher wearing a face mask conducts a class as students return to school after the summer break, less than a month into a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine booster drive, at Arazim Elementary School in Tel Aviv, Israel September 1, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

JNS.org – The majority of Jews in contemporary Israel are descendants of Jews who were expelled or fled from countries under Muslim rule between 1948 and 1967. Generally referred to as Mizrachim (from the East), they include those with roots in Central Asia, the Balkans and Ethiopia.

But a recent survey of Israelis under 30 indicates that the history, heritage and culture of Mizrachi Jewry are woefully neglected in Israel’s school system.

In the poll carried out in late December 2021 by Smith Consulting, a leading Israeli poll company, 80 percent of those polled said that the subject was either not taught at all or in a limited way, and 75 percent could not recall any program or lesson in school that reinforced a positive perception of Mizrachi Jewry.

Some 68 percent of respondents had never heard of the Farhud, the 1941 pogrom in Baghdad that killed more than 150 Jews, whereas 58 percent were able to correctly identify Kristallnacht.

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The survey was commissioned by Iraqi-British Jewish businessman and philanthropist David A. Dangoor CBE. Dangoor is president of Dangoor Education, a subsidiary of the Exilarch Foundation that supports educational initiatives, including many in the field of Sephardi/Mizrachi heritage, culture and education. He also serves as vice president of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq.

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