Screening: The Last Jews of Libya

Screening Sunday 9th December, 2007

The Last Jews of Libya documents the final decades of a centuries-old Sephardic Jewish community through the lives of the remarkable Roumani family. Thirty-six thousand Jews lived in Libya at the end of World War II, but not a single one remains today.

A tale of war, cultural dislocation, and one family’s ultimate perseverance, this fifty-minute film traces the story of the Roumanis of Benghazi, Libya from Turkish Ottoman rule through the age of Mussolini and Hitler to the final destruction and dispersal of Libya’s Jews in the face of Arab nationalism.

Based on the recently discovered memoirs of the family’s matriarch, Elise Roumani, as well as interviews in English, Hebrew, Italian, and Arabic with several generations of the Roumani family and a trove of rare archival film and photographs, it is an unforgettable tale.

The Last Jews of Libya is the story of an ancient community transformed by modern European culture, buffeted by Fascism and Arab nationalism, and ultimately saved through the strength of its Jewish tradition and faith.

Narrated by Isabella Rossellini
Director: Vivienne Roumani-Denn
Editor: Amanda Zinoman
Executive Producer: Aryeh B Bourkoff