The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

              The Jews of Babylon
In 1951 there were more than 150,000 Jews living in Iraq. Many of those Jewish families could trace their roots in Iraq to 597 BC when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple and brought 10,000 Jews to Babylon as slaves. Now, the Jewish community in Iraq is down to 34 people. This article describes the sad fate of what was one of the Middle East's most prosperous, enlightened and educated Jewish communities.
No one heard Emad Levy's Rosh Hashana prayers last week and that's how he wanted it. Standing in the living room of his rundown home off a main street in central Baghdad, the last Hebrew-reading Iraqi Jew prayed alone. No shofar was blown and no feast was eaten. When he finished, the 38-year-old bachelor walked to an adjoining room and bathed 80-year-old Ibrahim [Abraham] Shkouri, who is still recovering from a leg amputation.

In many ways, this Rosh Hashana marked an ominous first for a man who embodies the very last vestiges of the 2,600-year-old Iraqi Jewish community.

For the first time, Levy, the community's acting rabbi (there are no more certified rabbis), was unable to go to the synagogue and blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana.

It was also the first time that Levy did not pray at the graves of his dead ancestors at the Baghdad Jewish cemetery - an Iraqi Jewish custom performed the day before Rosh Hashana.
|| Nudnik 11:49 PM
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