No Friends but the Kurds
At a time when the freedom of the Kurdish people is imperiled, the American Sephardi Federation is hosting a two-part program.
First, researchers from the Diarna Geo-Museum of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Life will present a virtual guided tour of Jewish historical sites in Iraqi-Kurdistan, ranging from synagogues and communal caves to the purported shrines of Biblical prophets and the tomb of the first woman rabbi.
Afterward, ASF Board Member Jamil Ezra, a native of Baghdad, will share his inspiring story of fleeing 1970s Baathist Iraq with the help of the Kurdish fighters known as Peshmurga, who included a young Masoud Barzani. Now President of the Kurdish Regional Government, Barzani personally drove Jamil to freedom.
The Diarna virtual guided journey to Jewish-Iraqi Kurdistan is the product of nine years of research and multiple research expeditions.
Just before the rise of ISIS, a team of researchers from Diarna journeyed to Iraqi-Kurdistan to document the last remnants of Jewish life, more than fifty years after the community disbanded. Warmly greeted by Kurds who fondly remembered their Jewish neighbors and Peshmurga who invited them for tea at a checkpoint, the Diarna researchers discovered hidden Jewish history in caves and behind crumbling walls. Learn about fascinating sites in Amediye, Akre, al-Qoosh, Betanur, Kirkuk, and elsewhere.
More recently, as detailed in Newsweek’s March 3, 2017 cover story (http://ln.is/x0Y8mGk), a Diarna researcher survived an ISIS chemical attack at Sinjar as work continues to discover and document the area’s rich Jewish history.