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            Margalit Oved is one of nine children born in the city of Aden which is now part of the Republic of Yemen. At the time Margalit and her family were living in Aden it was a British protectorate and home to a variety of people including 3,000 Jews. Aden was like a paradise to Margalit as she was growing up; life there was beautiful and exciting she recalls. Every day Margalit’s father would take her to the market with him and each morning before they left she sit on her rooftop and watch the caravan of 50 camels, which made up the market, ride into the city. On Fridays her trip to the market would be a little different; Margalit and her father would bring 10 baskets to be filled in preparation for Shabbat, one they would keep for their family and the others they would give to the poor families of Aden. Margalit and her family always did what they could to help one another and their community.

            As much as Aden was a like a paradise, life was not always beautiful and towards the end of Margalit’s time living there things took a turn for the worse. Many people in Aden suffered from typhus including one of Margalit’s sisters who was lucky to have survived; however, many of their friends and neighbors died at the hands of this terrible disease. Also, in 1949 a devastating and truly unexpected pogrom struck Aden and the British who mandated the territory did nothing to stop it. Young Arab men went on a rampage of the city and burned down Jewish homes and synagogues, killing whoever was in their path. The aftermath was horrific- the Jews had nowhere to live and they were not allowed to bury their dead.

            Shortly after this pogrom the Jews of Aden felt the need to immigrate to Israel. A man from Israel named Ovadia Tuvia came to educate the Jews and prepare them for their journey and life in Israel. Margalit and her family left for Israel at the same time 50,000 other Jews from Yemen were being exiled. Once in Israel Margalit and her sister found work immediately as it was much needed. The two of them would travel to and from Israel to Aden helping the Yemenite Jews make their way to Israel. Margalit also taught in several schools in Israel and eventually joined a Yemenite dance group called Inbal. She now owns her own dance company, Margalit Dance Theatre Company, and her pieces are greatly influenced by life in Aden, different cultures, biblical stories, and nature.   

This interview was filmed and donated to "Seeing the Voices" by JIMENA U.S.A. (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa)

Margalit Oved

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Sarah Levin
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