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The Extraordinary Story of Gisèle Braka, a Sephardic Jew in the Holocaust

In seeking to shed light on Sephardic women from French North Africa within the greater Holocaust narrative, I searched the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive for oral testimonies. With a collection of more than 54,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of genocide, I located 20 testimonies by women born in Morocco, Tunisia or Algeria. I decided to let the women speak for themselves because it is vital that their stories exist within a greater narrative of the modern Jewish experience.

Although their stories are unique and individually important, one stood out as extraordinary—that of Gisèle Braka, née Chemama. As a young woman, this polyglot slipped through the cracks of ruthless Paris roundups, joined the Resistance, and survived the War to become an activist for Sephardic and humanitarian causes worldwide.