I heard Ariel Sabar speak about his new book, My Father’s Paradise, last night at the DC JCC. It was a fascinating presentation, and I would like to read the book.
His father, Yona Sabar, a professor at UCLA, was born in 1938 in a village called Zakho, in northern Iraq (Kurdistan), just a few miles south of the Turkish border. The Jews of Kurdistan, perhaps 20,000 in number, had lived in small villages in the Kurdish mountains for millenia (literally, millenia), perhaps since the capture of the northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C.E. They lived in small communities, did not isolate themselves from their Moslem (and Christian neighbors), but were totally and completely isolated from the rest of the world, maintained their own customs and language (a dialect of Aramaic, now called by some Neo-Aramaic, to distinguish it from the Aramaic of Kol Nidre, the Kaddish, and Jesus.