History of the JEAA
JEAA, Judéo-Espagnol A Auschwitz, a Paris, France based organization was founded on September 13, 2000 by Prof. Haïm-Vidal Sephiha, president and Dr. Michel Azaria, Vice-president. JEAA's founding objective was to obtain an additional plaque in Judeo-Spanish at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
For that purpose, an international petition was launched. Individuals from 48 countries signed the petition also called The Salonika Petition: 1- 37% from France; 2- 18% from USA.
51% Americans signed a written document of support while the remaining 49 % showed their support on our Internet website (www.sepharadshoah.org). Among those who signed a slip, 40% were from Florida (Boynton Beach, Fl; Boca Raton, Fl; Miami Beach, Fl etc.)
Key spiritual leaders and personalities throughout the world wrote us personal letters of support. In USA, with the generous assistance of Shelomo Alfassa, Rabbi Marc Angel (Shearith Israel Congregation) was the first one to send a very touching letter of support in the days which followed our foundation. We also have supporting letters from Prof. Aron Rodrigue, Stanford University and James Carroll, a world specialist on the Christian-Jewish relationships.
In addition to individuals, more than 70 organizations worldwide have endorsed our action. In USA, 10 sent their unconditional commitment, including the American Sefardi Federation.
On September 10, 2001 a memorandum drafted by JEAA was presented during the bi-annual meeting of the International Auschwitz Council. The Council decided to reverse its prior decision not to include a plaque in Judeo-Spanish. Subsequently, after several meetings between Dr. Michel Azaria and Director Jerzy Wroblewski of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the date and the organization of the unveiling ceremony were finalized.
On March 24, 2003 Jewish people from across the world gathered in Poland to dedicate the Judeo-Spanish plaque, a permanent monument for the Sephardim.