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Iraq’s Jewish community shrinks to just four

TJI Pick
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Published: 30 March 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

With the passing of a doctor who treated the poor for free, one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities has only four Jews remaining AT THE HABIBIYA JEWISH cemetery in the capital Baghdad, wedged between the Martyr Monument erected by ex-dictator Saddam Hussein and the restive Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, an aged Muslim man still tends to the graves, but visitors are rare. To hear Jewish prayer out in the open is rare now in Baghdad, where there is but one synagogue that only opens occasionally and no rabbis. But Jewish roots in Iraq go back some 2,600 years. According to biblical tradition, they arrived in 586 BC as prisoners of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II after he destroyed Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. In Iraq, they wrote the Babylonian Talmud on the very land where the patriarch Abraham was born and where the Garden of Eden is considered by some to have been located, in the heart of the Mesopotamian marshlands. More than 2,500 years later, in Ottoman-ruled Baghdad, Jews were the second largest community in the city, making up 40 percent of its inhabitants. FULL STORY Iraq's Jewish community dwindles to fewer than five (i24news) Photo: Members of Iraq's Kurdish Jewish community light a menorah for Chanukah in the town of Al-Qosh, 50km north of Mosul, in December 2019 (Safin Hamed/AFP)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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