«Jewish Observer»
December 2002
5763 Tevet

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In one of the poorest Baghdad's quarters, where sewage flows right along the streets and heaps of garbage are scattered everywhere, live the last of those who once belonged to one of most prosperous communities of Jewish Diaspora.

50 years ago 350 thousand Jews resided in Iraq. Now there are 38 Jews left in its capital. Basra may boast of one elderly Jewish woman. In Mosul and Amar, where Jews resided for over two thousand years, there is not a trace of their communities at all.

The threat of an armed conflict gathering, the Jewish community in Baghdad thinks with horror what is ahead of it.

"Excuse me, but I can't talk to you, - announced an 80-year-old Ibrahim Yusef Salekh, who heads the community since the last rabbi died in 1996. - You should receive a written permission at the Ministry of information, and its representative should be present at an interview".

And an obviously frightened Salekh opened the door of his small office with several brochures in Hebrew on the shelves and an obligatory portrait of Saddam on the wall. "Could you, please, leave now?" - he asked pleadingly.

The ministry's perplexed officials refused to grant the permission. Some of them even insisted the synagogue has been closed for long.


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