Commemoration of the Jewish exodus from Arab lands


In June 2014, the government of Israel adopted a law that designates Nov. 30 as an annual, national day of commemoration for the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were displaced from Arab countries and Iran in the 20th century.

This year, the Consulate General of Israel to New England will host a virtual program commemorating the expulsion of Jews from Syria, which occurred in the wake of the establishment of the State of Israel. The program will feature leading expert Dr. Mijal Bitton, whose research focuses on the Jews of Syria, as well as an interview with Dr. Mayer Ballas, a Syrian Jew who played a key role in the rescue of the community. Ambassador Meron Reuben, Consul General of Israel to New England, will introduce the program.

Bitton is a scholar-in-residence at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She serves as the rosh kehilla (communal leader) and co-founder of the Downtown Minyan in New York City. In 2018 Bitton was selected for inclusion as one of the  ‘36 under 36’ changemakers in New York Jewish Week.

Ballas, the founding president of the Council for the Rescue of Syrian Jews, is a native of Damascus who arrived in the U.S. in 1978. He helped resettle thousands of Syrian Jews in the New York Sephardic community once they were released by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

This program will take place virtually on Tuesday, November 30, at 7 p.m. You can register for this event at This event is sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel to New England and co-sponsored by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, along with AJC New England, Lappin Foundation, American Sephardi Federation, JIMENA, Beth Abraham Sephardic Synagogue, Beit-Sasson-The Sephardic Congregation of Newton, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut and Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.

LARRY KATZ  ( is the director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Alliance, Israel