Herzl, Galila, Independence and Kedma – are just some of the “illegal immigration” ships that made their way from Libya to Israel from 1949. In 1967 the last Jews left the Libya, and a 2,500-year-old tradition in exile made aliyah to Israel.
The contribution of the ‘Trabelsia’ (another nickname for the Jews of Libya) to the establishment of the State of Israel and to the settlement in the country, is based on the vision of redemption. With their arrival they established dozens of settlements from north to south: Kerem Ben Zimra, Alma, Elishama, Hatzav, Birya, Ahuzam, Shalva and more are just part of the ‘Wall and Tower’ settlements of Libyan Jewry in Israel.
Besides manual labor and the revival of the land, Libyan Jews lived a life of Torah and work. They often spiced up their rich spiritual world with poetry and liturgical hymns. It is important to note with pride that one of the most favorite “piyyutim” (liturgical hymns) in all Jewish communities is Bar Yochai, written in Libya by Rabbi Shimon Lavi and sung every Shabbat night.
The community continued to maintain its character and stay connected with the beautiful customs of the Basisa, Lil Haas and Nahar and others, with the ethnic newspaper “Livluv”, and of course with the establishment of the World Museum & Libyan Jewish Heritage Center which was built in Or Yehuda. All of these represent a glorious heritage and serve as pride for all members of the community in Israel and around the world.
Libyan Jews contributed to Israeli cuisine from their special dishes, rich in flavors and aromas, which have become an integral part of Israeli cuisine. The chuma pepper, haraima fish, couscous, mafrum, and all sorts of tbiech are just a small part of the rich world of foods made in the Libyan kitchen.
From then to today, this small community contributed greatly to the people of Israel and many of them attained key positions, such as entrepreneur Yitzhak Tshuva, Minister Yitzhak Cohen, Minister Moshe Kahlon and even Rabbi Zamir Cohen’s wife.