According to Amar, whereas there is a growing interest in Mizrahi music and cuisine, centuries-old spiritual treasures are being neglected. "Mimouna (a traditional Moroccan end-of-Passover celebration), and Mufleta (a Moroccan pastry - ed.) are nice to enjoy now—but the spiritual legacy will remain forever,” Amar said.
An expert in Medieval Hebrew Paleography, Amar is the chairman of the "Lights of the Jews of the Maghreb," an institution for the preservation of Moroccan Jewry heritage. According to the professor, the problematic relationship between Israeli academia and Sephardic literature and philosophy started back in the 80’s.
“There was an outrage following the publication of Kalman Katzenelson’s 1964 book entitled 'The Ashkenazi Revolution'”, he explained. According to the book, there are two peoples living in Israel: supreme Ashkenazim and inferior Sephardim, who should learn Yiddish in order to be considered 'cultured.'
“There was a great cry and then the Knesset decided to make a change. The Institute for Integration of Mizrahi Jewry Legacy was founded, and all the universities, who wanted in on the budgets, established research facilities," Amar added.
However, between 2006-2007, things began to change. “Limor Livnat, the education minister at the time, had decided to close the integration institution and the universities were out of incentives. Once a professor retired, his position was cancelled and only several courses were left," he elaborated.
“In the basement this book was waiting for me, alongside Torah scrolls and inscriptions. Just by the writing I could tell it's very old, and I told him I’ll take it. He asked for $1000, an imaginary sum for Morocco in the 90’s. He said if I don’t take it, an American will come by and pay double the amount. What could I have done?" he went on to say.
Among the texts Amar keeps in his archives are protocols from local Rabbinical Courts that tell the story of entire communities—stories of plagues, pogroms, hardship, philosophy and much more.
Read article in full
Read article in full