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Tribute to Sami Michael

09Jun2:30 pm4:00 pmTribute to Sami Michael2:30 pm - 4:00 pm(GMT-04:00) Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16 Street, New York, NY 10011

Event Details

Hosted by Zvi Ben-Dor (NYU)

This event is organized by the American Sephardi Federation as part of the New York Sephardic Film Festival.  For information about admission visit the festival’s website.

Sami Michael who passed away last April, was a writer, a poet and a man of action. He called language his “temple:” Arabic which he left behind in his beloved Baghdad and Hebrew which he slowly adopted in his equally beloved Haifa. 

Born Kamal Salah Menashe in an affluent neighborhood of Baghdad in 1926, he was active in the Communist Party as a young man. An arrest warrant from Iraqi authorities forced him to flee to Iran in 1948 and then to Israel in 1949, where he worked as a journalist for the Arabic-language Communist newspaper in the northern city of Haifa. In 1955, disillusioned with Soviet politics, he left the paper and the party and went to work as a hydrologist with the Israel Hydrologic Authority. He published his first novel in Hebrew in 1974, All Men are Equal — But Some are More, recounting the discrimination and struggles of Mizrahi Jews in Israel. 

A socialist and human rights activist, Michael insightfully portrayed the rituals and the language of power that in all societies establish and perpetuate the exploitation of one group over another. Until the end of his life he continued to expose the rising intolerance of his country and the trivialization of Judaism’s core values by the nationalistic narrative. He translated into Hebrew the work of Naguib Mahfouz. 

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