IJAO

(Iraqi Jewish Association of Ontario)

Providing services and meeting the social and religious needs of the Jewish community of Babylonian descent.

Iraq

From Iraq to exodus: the flight of a country’s Jewish community

From Iraq to exodus: the flight of a country’s Jewish community

by Holly Johnston ERBIL, Kurdistan Region —  Bertha Bekhor was 15 years old when a man knocked frantically at the door of her Baghdad home, on a warm June evening in 1941. Violence was sweeping across Iraq’s capital, targeted at one group – the Jews. “A man came to the house, banging on the door […]

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Don’t forget the Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands

Don’t forget the Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands

by Jonathan S. Tobin Palestinians and their supporters not only erase the Jewish history of the land of Israel, but also of the Jews of Arab lands who lost their homes 70 years ago. In international conflicts, history is more of a weapon than a field of study. That’s why the history of Palestinian Arab […]

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New initiative seeks to remember ‘forgotten’ Jewish refugees from the Middle East

New initiative seeks to remember ‘forgotten’ Jewish refugees from the Middle East

by Israel Kasnett More than that, an effort is underway to recognize centuries of contributions of Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, and to foster relations for the future. The nine young Iraqi Jewish men hanging in the center of Liberation Square in Baghdad in January 1969 after being accused by the Ba’athist […]

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Iraqi Judaism lives on in literary form

Iraqi Judaism lives on in literary form

by Joseph Croitoru Translated from the German by Nina Coon Interest in the Iraqi-Jewish cultural heritage is growing – both in Israel and Iraq. Novels in which emigrants and their children evoke the lost world of their forefathers are proving especially popular. By Joseph Croitoru Until around 70 years ago, Iraq was home to one […]

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Iraqi Jew Creates New Life for Herself in America

Iraqi Jew Creates New Life for Herself in America

by Ben Sales When arguing with her first grade teacher about the Arab-Israeli conflict, Ceen Gabbai didn’t realize she was taking a huge risk. It was around September of 2000, and the second Intifada, the outbreak of Palestinian violence in Israel, was underway. Gabbai was one of the few Jewish students in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Standing up […]

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Here’s what it’s like to grow up as a Jew in Iraq

Here’s what it’s like to grow up as a Jew in Iraq

By Ben Sales NEW YORK (JTA) — When Ceen Gabbai argued with her first-grade teacher about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, she didn’t realize how big of a risk she was taking. The year was 2000 and students across the world held strong opinions about the Second Intifada, an outbreak of violence that claimed thousands of lives […]

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Heritage

Understanding the Indian Baghdadi Jews

Understanding the Indian Baghdadi Jews

The Jewish Museum tells the history of British Jews while also celebrating the larger Jewish community.  One such community is the Baghdadi Jewish community of India. Originally from Iraq and Jewish Diasporas around the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, this Jewish community played a crucial economic role in the region, which served as the trading centre […]

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Army troops play key role in preserving Iraqi Jewish heritage

Army troops play key role in preserving Iraqi Jewish heritage

By Steve DeVaneAirborne & Special Operations Museum exhibit is on display through Sept. 22. An exhibit of material related to the Jewish community in Iraq shows the important role Army troops can play in the preservation of culture, the director of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum said. Special Operations soldiers played a key role […]

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Lost history: understanding the unseen story of Iraqi Jews

Lost history: understanding the unseen story of Iraqi Jews

Hannah Harn learns about the history of the Jews of Iraq As of 2016, Ireland was home to fewer than 3,000 Jews. “In the region of Munster, we have about 95 people on a day to day basis and we’ll meet up occasionally,” said Aida Phelops of West Cork. Ms Phelops is a speaker on the […]

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What Do You Know? Iraq’s Jewish History

What Do You Know? Iraq’s Jewish History

March 25, 2019 In the series What Do You Know?, we feature scholars’ answers to questions about Jewish history and culture submitted by our readers. Q: An anonymous reader asks: Are there any Jews left in Iraq? A: Current fellow Annie Greene answers: The history of Jews in Iraq is a very long one, going back to 597 BCE when Jews […]

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Young Iraqis re-encounter their Jewish compatriots

Young Iraqis re-encounter their Jewish compatriots

by Gilgamesh Nabeel After seven decades of alienation, Iraqi Jews use culture to build bridges with their non-Jewish countrymen and vice versa.  Through Baghdadi folk songs and lullabies, British-born musician Carol Isaacs sailed with dozens of Iraqis and Britons from London all the way to her motherland in Mesopotamia. “The Wolf of Baghdad,” held at the SOAS […]

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Back to the roots: Iraqi Jews want their citizenship reinstated

Back to the roots: Iraqi Jews want their citizenship reinstated

Youngsters sit in their classroom in Baghdad’s Jewish Frank Iny School, one of three Jewish school in the Iraqi capital, Feb. 6, 1969. (AP) Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Monday, 3 September 2018 Text size AAA It appears that the issue of Jews of Iraqi descent demanding back their nationality has taken a new turn […]

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Baghdad

From Baghdad To Kokomo

From Baghdad To Kokomo

Memoir Of A Young Man’s Odyssey To America by Albert Kudsizadeh A compelling account of growing up during the mid-twentieth century in the two oldest and once vibrant Jewish communities of Iraq and Iran–the first now obliterated, the second eroded. From Baghdad to Kokomo is part memoir, part history in which momentous events are interwoven […]

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City of London service is a tearful reminder of Iraqi massacre

City of London service is a tearful reminder of Iraqi massacre

Bevis Marks commemorates 50th anniversary of killing of Baghdad Jews As a spectacle in barbarity, it was hard to match, even by modern Middle East standards. On January 27 1969, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis poured into Baghdad’s main square to gawp at the bodies of nine Jews strung up on scaffolds erected at the […]

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Ceremony Marks 50th Anniversary of Notorious Hanging of Baghdad Jews

Ceremony Marks 50th Anniversary of Notorious Hanging of Baghdad Jews

by Benjamin Kerstein Iraqi Jews arriving at Lod Airport in Israel in 1951. Photo: Israel Government Press Office. The 50th anniversary of the public hanging of nine Iraqi Jews and the subsequent killing and imprisonment of dozens more was marked by a ceremony held at the centuries-old Sephardi synagogue of Bevis Marks in the UK […]

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Iraq Still Honors This Jewish Star Known as the ‘Voice of Baghdad’

Iraq Still Honors This Jewish Star Known as the ‘Voice of Baghdad’

by: Eness Elias Salima Mourad, a singer who rose to fame in the early 1900s in Iraq – but remained there unlike many Jewish musicians – still strikes a chord today Salima Mourad takes the stage with her head slightly bowed and a big smile, wearing a sleeveless dress. She always looks stylish; she doesn’t […]

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In Exile, Iraqi Jews Are Desperate To Reclaim Their Artifacts

In Exile, Iraqi Jews Are Desperate To Reclaim Their Artifacts

by Talia Zax Shortly after the Iraqi Jewish Archive was found, Doris Hamburg, then director of preservation programs at the National Archives, and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, then the National Archives’ chief of conservation, were brought to Iraq to assess the archive’s condition. The materials had been stored in 27 metal trunks packed into a freezer […]

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The Last Relics Of Iraq’s Jewish Past Are In America. Should They Be Returned?

The Last Relics Of Iraq’s Jewish Past Are In America. Should They Be Returned?

by Talya Zax On a leafy parkway in the Jamaica section of Queens, there is a house that is no longer a house. It’s one of New York’s two Iraqi synagogues: Bene Naharayim. The building doubles, in some ways, as a museum. The sanctuary houses 18 Torahs kept in elaborately decorated wooden cases known as […]

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Personal History

From Baghdad to Boston and Beyond”: A Memoir of an Iraqi Jew

From Baghdad to Boston and Beyond”: A Memoir of an Iraqi Jew

“From Baghdad to Boston and Beyond”: A Memoir of an Iraqi Jew”. Amy Dane co-author of Dr. Jacob Shammash’s story of emigration from Baghdad in 1947, after the Farhud and his amazing success in America. The book is a true story of love, horror, sadness and joy. reinvention of one man and his family in […]

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The Jew Who Helped Defeat Iraq’s pro-Nazi Regime

The Jew Who Helped Defeat Iraq’s pro-Nazi Regime

by Ofer Aderet Yoav Byron Kattan, who passed away last week, founded a Zionist underground in Iraq and served as a judge in Israel Yoav Byron Kattan, a retired judge from Be’er Sheva who died last week, once recalled how “Nazi ideology was bubbling up” in his native Iraq during his formative years. Decades after […]

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‘I’ve been sentenced to death’ – a farewell letter of an Iraqi Jew in 1969

‘I’ve been sentenced to death’ – a farewell letter of an Iraqi Jew in 1969

By Zack Evans, Cassandra Gomes-Hochberg Sami Halali and his family were able to flee Iraq to Israel in 1971. Sami explained that the family hid the letter in their house after they received it in Iraq, but read it only once because of the pain it caused. The last letter of an Iraqi Jew executed […]

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The Discovery and Rescue of Iraqi Jews’ Patrimony in Baghdad. Will It Now Be Lost?

The Discovery and Rescue of Iraqi Jews’ Patrimony in Baghdad. Will It Now Be Lost?



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Remember Baghdad coming to TJFF

Remember Baghdad coming to TJFF

REMEMBER BAGHDAD (feature) The attitude used to be “Jews, Muslims, Christians, we were all Iraqis.” For over 2500 years, Jews were an integral community in modern Iraq. However, over the last 80 years, Iraq has been depleted of its Jewish community through three significant waves, leaving an estimated 5 remaining Jews as of 2013. Director […]

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Tea with Iraqi Jews

Tea with Iraqi Jews

  Sol Basha A story-telling session over Iraqi tea with members of the last community of Jews to have lived in Baghdad peacefully. Descriptions of domestic spaces, accounts of escape, and memories of the micro-local environment of their day.   James Kadoorib

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Israel

Iraqi Singer, Ismail Fadel to Majalla: “I am convinced  that music is a way to bring communities together and push towards  peace.”

Iraqi Singer, Ismail Fadel to Majalla: “I am convinced that music is a way to bring communities together and push towards peace.”

By Amal Shehata The Iraqi community in Israel cares deeply for it heritage and many of its members organise Arabic concerts on a regular basis. When an Iraqi singing voice is heard in Tel Aviv, the Iraqi Jews living in Israel feel a sense of collective celebratory euphoria, as they get the opportunity to commemorate […]

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Ending the Humiliation (Vic Rosenthal)

Ending the Humiliation (Vic Rosenthal)

 by Vic Rosenthal When the muhtasib or his agent comes to collect the jizya, he should stand the dhimmi in front of him, slap him on the side of the neck and say: “Pay the jizya, unbeliever.” The dhimmi will take his hand out of his pocket holding the jizya and present it to him with […]

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Former Miss Iraq: Arab-Israeli conflict ‘deeply rooted’ in anti-Semitism

Former Miss Iraq: Arab-Israeli conflict ‘deeply rooted’ in anti-Semitism

At UN Human Rights Council, Sarah Idan calls out Iraqi government for not backing her after she got death threats for joint photo with Miss Israel By TOI staff A former Iraqi representative to the Miss Universe beauty pageant on Tuesday condemned Arab states for their criticism of Israel and said hostility to the Jewish […]

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Israel said set to seek $250b compensation for Jews forced out of Arab countries

Israel said set to seek $250b compensation for Jews forced out of Arab countries

‘Time has come to correct historic injustice,’ minister says After 18 months of research, first claims being finalized for reported $35b from Tunisia, $15b from Libya, for assets Jews left behind when kicked out after establishment of Israel By Times of Israel staff 5 January 2019 Israel is preparing to demand compensation totaling a reported […]

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Why Have Transit Camps for Mizrahi Jews Been Written Out of Israeli History?

Why Have Transit Camps for Mizrahi Jews Been Written Out of Israeli History?

In 1951, a quarter of a million people were living in what was known as ma’abarot, 80 percent of them from Islamic lands. Most of the camps were dismantled by 1959. Ten forgotten years. An odd question is posed by the protagonist of the television series “Zagouri Empire,” in the first episode of the new […]

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How Iraqi Jews are Reclaiming their Cultural Legacy in Israel

How Iraqi Jews are Reclaiming their Cultural Legacy in Israel

  By Pablo Jairo Tutillo Maldonado Last December, after Shabbat ended, I was walking near the Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s famous open-air market, when I saw people celebrating the beginning of the week with drinks in hand and music blasting in the background. What drew my attention to the scene was a vibrant song in Arabic. […]

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Canada

COVID-19 Protocols

COVID-19 Protocols

After receiving direction from public health authorities and in accord with the Sephardic Kehilah Centre’s practice, we have restarted weekly Shabbat services.Efforts will be made to ensure we do not start and end our service at the same time as other shuls in the building. As the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, we need to continue […]

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Canada’s oldest Jewish congregation celebrates 250 years

Canada’s oldest Jewish congregation celebrates 250 years

By Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter     From left, Rose Simon Schwartz, the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue’s co-ordinator of its 250th anniversary celebrations, shul president Edmond Elbaz and Rabbi Avi Finegold stand in front of the synagogue’s original Aron Kodesh, which is still in use in its daily chapel. JANICE ARNOLD PHOTO   It’s the […]

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Canadian Jewry in the era of ‘none is too many’

Canadian Jewry in the era of ‘none is too many’

By Irving Abella         [In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, The CJN presents essays on 10 significant moments in Canadian Jewish history.] On May 15, 1939, 907 desperate German Jews set sail from Hamburg on the luxury liner, the St. Louis. They had been stripped of all of their possessions by the […]

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The first Jews in Canada

The first Jews in Canada

By Allan Leviner     When Canada first became a country, 150 years ago, there were slightly less than 1,200 Jews living here. But Jewish settlement in French, and then British, North America, goes back much further. In 1677, Joseph de la Penha, a young Sephardic Jewish merchant, ship owner and financier of privateers from […]

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Arabic has a Jewish dialect, and these women speak it

Arabic has a Jewish dialect, and these women speak it

Public Radio International tells us the unlikely story of the near-death and cultural revival of Judeo-Arabic.      Alina Simone tracked down three Judeo-Arabic speakers in Montreal. They arrived there decades ago, following their exodus from Iraq (with a few stops elsewhere along the way). All three grew up speaking an Iraqi variant of this Jewish-tinged Arabic. […]

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Leaving Iraq

Leaving Iraq

interview with Asad Muallim A plane filled with Iraqi Jews photographed on arrival at Lod Airport in early 1951 (Credit: Teddy Brauner/GPO) B’nai Brith Canada spoke with our member, Asad Muallim. Although Asad left Iraq illegally in the early 1960s, his family that stayed endured many hardships, including arrests and property seizures due to their […]

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More

The Tragic Demise of Iraqi Jewry

The Tragic Demise of Iraqi Jewry

| ח׳ בתמוז ה׳תשע״ט (11/07/2019) | 0 Comments

by Alyssa Dwek Until the 1950s, Iraq was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, with a proud history spanning over 2,600 years. Today, fewer than ten Jews are left in the country. Within a few decades, a community of over one hundred thousand was reduced to practically nothing. What happened […]

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Jewish heritage survived ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq

Jewish heritage survived ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq

| כ״ח באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ט (04/04/2019) | 0 Comments

Mosul’s Jewish quarter miraculously survived three years of occupation by the “Islamic State” terror group and the battle to evict it. Reporter Judit Neurink and photographer Eddy van Wessel went there to find out how. When the Islamic militants of IS were finally routed from the city, most of western Mosul was left in ruins. But not […]

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Remembering Purim in Iraq; a Paradise of Parties and Pastries

Remembering Purim in Iraq; a Paradise of Parties and Pastries

| א׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ט (08/03/2019) | 0 Comments

Like visions of date palms laden with fruit, Purim in Iraq was paradise for children. “We were excused from school and over the two-day holiday, we’d attend six parties,” says Nora Iny, who grew up in Baghdad during the 1960s. She is now a trustee of Congregation Bene Naharayim, an Iraqi synagogue in Jamaica Estates, […]

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Zangula with Lemon Syrup

Zangula with Lemon Syrup

| א׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ט (08/03/2019) | 0 Comments

Ingredients For the syrup: 2 to 3 lemons 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) water 1 cup (200 grams) sugar For the dough and for frying: 1 1/8 teaspoons (1/2 package) active dry yeast 1 1/4 cups (300 milliliters) warm water (100° F to 110° F), divided 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour 3/4 cup (95 grams) […]

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A Group of Young Iraqis Risk Imprisonment to Reconnect With Their Country’s Jewish Past

A Group of Young Iraqis Risk Imprisonment to Reconnect With Their Country’s Jewish Past

| י״ד בתשרי ה׳תשע״ט (23/09/2018) | 0 Comments

by: Eetta Prince-Gibson Seven decades after the mass Jewish exodus from Iraq, a group of intrepid Iraqis and Israelis are holding clandestine meetings and talks in a bid to rekindle ties between the two countries and their peoples His real name isn’t Gilgamesh, hero of ancient Mesopotamian mythology. That’s just a pseudonym he and other […]

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Iraqis want their Jewish neighbors back

Iraqis want their Jewish neighbors back

| י״ט באלול ה׳תשע״ח (30/08/2018) | 0 Comments

Months after a Shiite cleric who won the parliamentary elections in Iraq said Jews “are welcome,” an online poll on the matter suggests that Iraqis are ready to discuss the right of return – more than Israelis are. By Meron Rapoport Immigrants from Iraq and Kurdistan exit their plane on arrival in Israel, having flown via Tehran, […]

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The Iraqi Jewish Archive Could Reshape Foreign Policy. But Its Future Is Uncertain

The Iraqi Jewish Archive Could Reshape Foreign Policy. But Its Future Is Uncertain

| י׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (22/07/2018) | 0 Comments

by: Talya Zax   Iraqi Jews are sure the Iraqi Jewish Archive belongs to them, and they’re determined to get it back. Meanwhile, Iraq is holding firm to the claim that it owns the archive, which it sees as an important commemoration of a rich past destroyed by Saddam Hussein. I asked Iraq’s ambassador to […]

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The Iraqi Jewish Archive is stolen property that should go back to its original owners

The Iraqi Jewish Archive is stolen property that should go back to its original owners

| י׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (22/07/2018) | 0 Comments

By Carole Basri and David Dangoor, In the preamble to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, it says that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the […]

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Is the Lost Language of Iraqi Jews Really Lost?

Is the Lost Language of Iraqi Jews Really Lost?

| י׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (22/07/2018) | 0 Comments

By Mardean Isaac On the anniversary of the Farhud of 1941, when Iraqi Jews’ violent dispossession began, a look at how the Baghdadi diaspora’s eventual return to Israel fostered scholarly interest in a rich Babylonian heritage   Is the Lost Language of Iraqi Jews Really Lost? Between 1948 and 1951, the vast majority of Iraq’s […]

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With Jews largely gone from Iraq, memories survive in Israel

With Jews largely gone from Iraq, memories survive in Israel

| י׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (22/07/2018) | 0 Comments

  By Maher Chmaytelli, Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Farrell   BAGHDAD/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Behind the high concrete walls of Baghdad’s Jewish cemetery, Violette Saul lies at rest under a weathered and cracked tombstone, one of the last memorials to an ancient community that is now all but extinct. The Iraqi nurse was buried a decade […]

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A Tragic Anniversary: The End of Jewish Life in Libya

A Tragic Anniversary: The End of Jewish Life in Libya

| כ״ה בסיון ה׳תשע״ח (08/06/2018) | 0 Comments

 by David Harris   A classroom in a Benghazi synagogue before World War II. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Fifty-one years ago this month, the world was transfixed by the Six Day War raging between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The war was triggered by genocidal threats from Cairo and Damascus to annihilate the Jewish state, troop […]

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Iraq-born refugee could become first Arabic speaker to head Britain’s Jews

Iraq-born refugee could become first Arabic speaker to head Britain’s Jews

| כ״ב באייר ה׳תשע״ח (07/05/2018) | 0 Comments

Baghdad-born candidate standing for presidency of UK’s most powerful Jewish group says more diverse representation is needed The most influential organisation representing British Jews could soon have its first leader from a Mizrahi – or Arab – background. Edwin Shuker, one of four candidates campaigning to be the next president of the Board of Deputies […]

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