D’fina is the result of years of work and contributions by an array of people, including photographers, programmers, philanthropists, writers, and professors. Their voluntary efforts, in combination with the generosity of several foundations, have enabled the Diarna Project to undertake its mission of utilizing new digital mapping technology to virtually preserve endangered Jewish heritage sites across the Middle East and North Africa. This exhibit is the first, fledgling step toward realizing that purpose — one which we hope to improve and expand upon to include many hundreds more sites than the 40 featured in D’fina’s Google Earth-based tour.
Here we recognize just a few of Diarna’s team members, partners, and supporters. Others, like the caretaker pictured above, prefer no public acknowledgment. In the absence of the unheralded, often lifetime commitments of Muslims like her, however, many of these sites would have disappeared long before our researchers arrived to ensure their digital preservation. Whether recognized by name or in the quality of the exhibit itself, we wish to sincerely thank all concerned for sharing their talents and their most precious possession, time. The categories below are in no way meant to limit our appreciation for the multiple and manifold contributions each individual has made.
Ira Jolles — President of the Cahnman Foundation, which made the critical investment that brought about D’fina’s creation. The Foundation’s support, as well as his personal interest, have motivated us to achieve more than we had ever thought possible.
Karen Douglas — a supporter of Diarna from before the beginning, she continues to take an active role in its development.
Project Grantors — The Ridgefield Foundation of the Leir Charitable Foundations, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and especially the Oliver & Elizabeth Stanton Foundation, whose grant accelerated the network-link’s successful development.
Research and Documentation
Alma Rachel Heckman — a Wellesley alumna, Fulbright Scholar, and intrepid Diarna researcher who, for the past year, has called Morocco home. She undertook expeditions to several Vichy Camps and other interesting sites, some of which she has written about on Diarna.org, MyJewishLearning.com, as well as for D’fina.
Angela Strassheim — an accomplished photographer and volunteer videographer for our most recent southern Moroccan expedition. The footage of the Vichy camps, in particular, benefit from her forensic treatment.
Professor Aomar Boum — a sociocultural anthropologist in the University of Arizona’s Near Eastern Studies as well as Religious Studies Departments, has provided invaluable guidance and insights based on his life experience and academic expertise. Professor Boum grew-up in the M’Hamid oasis of southern Morocco and has focused his research on Moroccan Jewry and the creation of what he terms online memory communities.
Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of the Jewish People — a Diarna project partner that contributed a number of interesting archival photos to include with several exhibit sites.
Professor Daniel Schroeter — University of Minnesota’s Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Modern Jewish History for providing insights culled from his research, and especially his field work focusing on rural southern Moroccan communities and Jewish shrines.
D.R. Cowles — the renowned master of an old-world style of photography has graciously shared freely of his collection.
Joshua Shamsi — Diarna’s lead photographer has gone to the region several times and is responsible for some of the most poignant photos in our collection. The consummate professional, one would never know by the care, detail, and passion embodied within each photograph that this exhibit marks the first time Shamsi has ever shot panoramics.
Maria Douich — a Moroccan native and former intern, who continues to assist with research and outreach, particularly in Arabic.
Michal Bornstein — a current Wellesley student and Diarna-Jewish Studies Program intern who has scoured archives to locate and sometimes translate rare finds.
Raphael (Raphy) Elmaleh — the tour guide and preservationist extraordinaire who is seen leading many of our video tours and idiosyncratically speaking an admixture of Arabic, French, and English — sometimes punctuated with Hebrew and Yiddish (click here to see a behind-the-scenes interview in which Elmaleh explains his unlikely start).
HDV Studios and Luis Reis Film to DVD and Video to DVD — for professional conversion and production services.
Michael Barr — a Diarna technical intern hailing from Rogers State University who has admirably continued working on our content management system and its integration with Google Earth long after graduation.
Mickey Mellen — the Google Earth expert worth his weight in Moroccan Telouet-mined salt (at its former rate i.e., gold), for developing and endlessly refining our network-link.