Apr 7, 2009

Jewish presence in Kurdistan

Jewish presence in Kurdistan goes back to the 9th century BC when Assyrian king Shalmeneser III settled deported Jews in the area between 858 and 824 BC. In the first century BC, Jewish teachers gave their congregations the freedom to proselytize which resulted in many Kurds converting to Judaism.

By the beginning of the 2nd century AD, Judaism was well established in Kurdistan Jewish presence continued until the middle of this century when the modem state of Israel was formed.

In the 17th Century AD Rabbi Samuel Barzani founded numerous seminaries and schools in Kurdistan. Even in this century, in the early 1900s several Jewish schools were open for both Jewish and non-Jewish Kurds. These schools remained in operation until shortly after the formation of the Jewish state in 1948. Since then many Kurdish Jews have moved to Israel where they live in Kurdish enclaves and maintain their ethnic customs.

Many older Kurds still carry memories of their Jewish neighbors and friends.

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