יום שישי, פברואר 16, 2007

 

Jews from Iraq

This morning on BBC World Service's Outlook program, there was a fascinating segment about Jews in Jerusalem who lived in Iraq until the 1950s. BBC's overview:

The creation of the Jewish state in 1948 brought an influx of immigrants from all over the world - from other parts of the Middle East as well as from war-scarred Europe. For all of them it was the culmination of a religious journey, the fulfilment of a dream to live in the promised land. But more than half a century on, how do those immigrants and their descendants feel? For Outlook, Lipika Pelham visited one community, the Iraqi Jews who arrived mainly in the 1950s, and settled in an area known as Mahane Yehuda in the heart of Jerusalem. It is a famous market with alleyways lined with grocery stores, still mostly owned by the descendants of the original Iraqi and Kurdish immigrants.
The program included interviews about a nuts-and-dried-apricots store run by one of the immigrants. (Why can't we have stores like that?) And tantalizing discussions about culinary traditions that they brought from Iraq. It also quotes one of the men as saying that before 1947, no one cared whether they were Jewish or Muslim, but everything changed for them after the establishment of the state of Israel. Some of them still speak Arabic amongst themselves, despite being fluent in Hebrew (and in some cases English).

The program was a great window on just how much the cultures of Mizrahi Jews (several of the people interviewed actually have Mizrahi as a surname) and Muslim Arabs. What a tragedy that they were forced from their homes. Fortunately, they had a Promised Land that welcomed them to new homes.

At the page linked above, the BBC offers a link to an audio clip.

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