Benny Sa’ada

Sa'ada, who grew up with the knowledge that the Temple had been destroyed two thousand years earlier, heard about the Western Wall, a remnant of the Temple, for the first time.

Benny Sa’ada was born and raised in Tripoli, Libya. In 1967 he was 18 years old, and his family was one of the few Jewish families who had not yet immigrated to Israel.  The Jewish community in Libya had suffered from anti-Semitic bullying on a regular basis, and when Palestinian organizations collected money, they forced the Jews to pay as well. On the eve of the Six Day War the atmosphere was tense. The feeling in Libya, intensified by the boasts of President Nasser of Egypt, was that the existence of the State of Israel was coming to an end. When the war broke out, the Jews of Tripoli were attacked by their fellow citizens.

On learning of the war, Sa’ada hurried home, and found that his sisters were not there. His mother sent him to look for them at school but they were gone by the time he got there. In the rising commotion he found shelter at a relative’s house, where he discovered that his sisters had arrived home safely, and that his mother did not want him to try to get home. During the days of the war Sa’ada was torn between the news of the riots over the city’s Jews and the news from Israel about the war, which they watched on a neighbor’s television set. Sa’ada, who grew up with the knowledge that the Temple had been destroyed two thousand years earlier, heard about the Western Wall, a remnant of the Temple, for the first time.

After the war ended and the riots subsided, representatives of the Libyan government came to the Jewish community and informed them that they could no longer guarantee their safety and encouraged them to leave the country. The Sa’ada family, along with the last of the Jews of Libya, departed for Italy, on their way to Israel.