MembersDiscovering Babylonian Jewry

The Jews of Iraq had a long and rich history in Mesopotamia before being hunted and expelled in the last century

By Rachel Avraham |
Jewish refugees arrive in Israel after fleeing Iraq. Photo: GPO

On a quiet street in Or Yehuda, a town in central Israel not far from the airport, an oriental looking building that houses the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center is located. Inside there is a vibrant museum, which traces Iraqi Jewish history from Cyrus the Great till the present. The museum displays a copy of the Cyrus Cylinder, of which the original sits in the British Museum, and many other items displaying both Iraqi Jewish daily life up until their expulsion, as well as after they were forced to leave the country. I took a guided tour of this museum together with Dr. Yehudit Erenberg, a professor at Talpiot College in Holon.

In the beginning of the tour, Dr. Erenberg showed me what an Iraqi Jewish living room looked like. She explained that the living room in Iraqi Jewish homes was an “open place for women and children, so that water could be drawn from the well in the yard in the center of the home. This summer living...

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